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Nov 29

Winning Innovative Theatre Challenge entry “A Campbell Family Christmas” begins Dec. 17

Posted on November 29, 2021 at 12:48 PM by Becky Burnside

“Silly” and “unexpected” are words Producing Artistic Director Tim Bair uses to describe the Theatre in the Park’s 2021 original holiday-themed musical production.

“A Campbell Family Christmas,” by local playwrights Soph Marsh and Joel Wally was the winning entry selected from 13 concepts as the winner of TIP’s second-annual Innovative Theatre Challenge, and will be performed live on-stage Dec. 17-19 indoors at The Black Box Theatre inside the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park. 

“It’s quirky, fast paced and fun,” Bair said of the show. “It reminds me of a sitcom. The characters are fun, different, and pretty funny. I think it is just a ball of fun and frolic for the holiday season!”

So, what’s the show about? Here’s a tiny peek:

Maddie is planning the "perfect" Christmas for her family. Her husband Joe is trying to help, well... where he can. Things get a little tricky when a snowstorm delays Mom and Dad's arrival, a cookie crazed neighbor keeps popping in, Maddie's sister Diane ends up in another country, brother Howard decides a religion change sounds like a good idea, and rum-loving Grandma gets her groove on with an impromptu holiday soirée. Toss in some kugel, an evergreen allergy, a dash for vegan eggnog (is that even a thing?!), a secretly meat-filled vegan pot of soup, and you've got holiday chaos at its best!

“A Campbell Family Christmas” features four performers, two of whom play two roles each. This show is Rated PG.

Opening night will be Dec. 17, with additional showings on Dec. 18, and 19. The Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday show is a matinee starting at 2 p.m.  The Dec. 18 production will be signed for the hearing impaired. Purchase tickets at theatreinthepark.org.

Early in 2021, playwrights from across the Kansas City Metro area were invited to submit new works to compete in the Theatre in the Park’s Innovative Theatre Challenge. Parameters given to writers were that the show had to be 45 to 60 minutes in length involving two actors (in either single or multiple roles), that had not been previously produced, and is “new, different, and creative.” 

Whereas the first ITC proceeded at breakneck pace going from concept to production in less than four months, this year’s challenge afforded a more manageable pace, which Bair says benefitted the final product. 

“We had a longer time to put this year together and that allowed us to go through two notes sessions with re-writes,” Bair said. “It really gave us a little time to read and consider without rushing through the process.”

While it is anticipated the ITC will continue, no timeframe for the program’s 2022 challenge has been announced yet. 

“We are thinking about how to make it perhaps a smaller endeavor that sits outside of our regular indoor season,” Bair said. “We are not quite sure how it will work yet.”

As for TIP’s 2022 season, shows are being announced in a unique way, through a program called “Dance the Season,” which filled within a day of first being announced in mid-November. During this three-session program which begins Jan. 2, participants will learn a dance inspired by a musical selection for each of the eight upcoming shows from TIP’s 2022 season, which will include five outdoor shows on the stage in Shawnee Mission Park, and three indoor shows at The Black Box Theatre. Watch TIP’s website for more information about the 2022 season.