There’s a new Grinch in town.
And a new version of the Christmas story.
The annual holiday show at Whidbey Playhouse Community Theater brings both the green grouch and a wacky re-telling of that famous night in a manger with two shows, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and “Jingle Bell Jukebox.”
The two-for-one Christmas production runs Nov. 30-Dec. 16; each play is about one hour.
“We decided to do two shorter plays as our Christmas production this year,” said producer Selene Muldowney. “Both are set in the 1950s and involve Christmas and children singing.”
Both feature an ensemble cast of young actors — from those wanting Santa to bring them two new front teeth — to high school students who’ve appeared in many Whidbey Playhouse productions.
In “Jingle Bell Jukebox,” a gaggle of teens, tweens and pemeens (pee-wee premature tweens?) hang out with soda shop owner Ruby, played by one of the few adult actors, Mary Waters.
Ruby decides to give the kids a musical lesson of the season via the jivin’ jukebox.
With clunking drops of coins, various tunes of jazz, gospel and rock n’ roll ring out, leading to fun dance scenes and sing-alongs by a cast of what seems like hundreds but is really less than 20.
Little boys slink around in little black leather jackets and jeans, combing back their slick hair while girls dressed in poodle skirts, white tops and saddle shoes lead the pack in dance steps and enthusiasm.
In “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” children are both angelic singers and devilish siblings of the Herdman clan. It’s based on the book by Barbara Robinson.
When the “six worst rotten kids in history” hear of free refreshments at church, they end up being in the Sunday School’s Christmas play with no clue about the plot. So they tell the Christmas story in their own unconventional way. The shepherds are nervous and scared, the Three Wise Men are accompanied by a Wise Puppy and the ham is stigmatized for its hand-out charity status.
But the second “Jukebox” show flies by with syrupy songs, Christmas celebrity appearances and swirling, whirling red and green poodle skirts made by seamstress Kathy Hakes.
“I sew but I don’t make costumes,” she said. “I’m new to the theater and I’ve been wanting to help with Playhouse.”
Making the 15 red and green skirts involved one yard of felt for each skirt. Then she attached the white, fluffy poodle and leash with hot glue.
“I wanted each poodle and leash to be a different color,” she said. “”It’s a circular skirt with no seams so really there wasn’t a lot of sewing involved.”
The slimy green Grinch of “Jingle Bell Jukebox” turned out not so bad, after all.
“Best part ever,” Kim Newcomb declared after last week’s family and press preview.
“I’m having a blast playing the Grinch,” she said.
Newcomb both blames and thanks her daughter for ending up painted in green face and stepping out with curled-up red toes.
“My darling daughter signed me up for an audition when she signed up,” said Newcomb, who’s helped backstage with children’s plays. “I put my hand up, and asked, ‘Is the Grinch part taken?’”
Like the other young actors, her daughter, Laurianna Newcomb, learned a couple of roles for the two productions and so did her mother. In addition to Grinch, Kim Newcomb played the roles of Mrs. Clark and a fireman.
“It’s been so much fun spending time with my daughter in rehearsals,” mom Newcomb said. “It’s a great family activity.”