‘Christ­mas Belles’ are ring­ing at Three Notch The­atre

Hol­i­day com­edy opens tonight at Three Notch

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By Christo­pher Michael Joyce of The New­towne Play­ers

Soon the hol­i­day bells will start ring­ing, so ride a sleigh down to Three Notch The­atre to see the fes­tive and hi­lar­i­ous “Christ­mas Belles.” The hol­i­day com­edy, writ­ten by Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones and Ni­cholas Hope, ratch­ets up the chaos and ab­sur­dity un­til it reaches an end­ing that will fill the whole fam­ily with warmth and cheer, even with the sore ribs from laugh­ter.

The play re­volves around the an­tics of three Texan sis­ters, the Futrelles, whose lives are changed for­ever when one of them, Honey Ray Futrelle, played by Dawn We­ber, tries to direct a pro­duc­tion of “The Christ­mas Story” and finds herself drawn into a wild whirl­wind of nau­seous ac­tors, tech­ni­cal mal­func­tions and fa­mil­ial in­trigue, all while fend­ing off the in­va­sive and bossy Geneva Mus­grave, played by Linda La­gle, who di­rected the pageant for decades be­fore get­ting the boot.

One sis­ter, Frankie Futrelle-Dub­berly (Laura Hin­kle) is preg­nant and has a se­cret she can’t bring to tell her fam­ily, while her red­neck, mall-Santa hus­band, Dub (Paul Rose), dis­cov­ers an anatom­i­cal prob­lem one can only de­scribe as press­ing. Their cheer­ful daugh­ter, G.J. Dub­berly (Hailey Leukhardt), is avoid­ing her awk­ward preacher boyfriend, Justin Waverly (Noah Busby), like a bib­li­cal plague, while the third Futrelle sis­ter, the slightly venge­ful and fully sar­donic Twink (Shan­non Fos­ter), is es­corted in hand­cuffs to the event by kindly cop John Cur­tis Bunter (Mike Sokoloff).

Other kooky char­ac­ters join­ing in the may­hem in­clude the ea­gerto-please Rhonda Lynn Lan­g­ley (Joanne Fue­sel), snobby Patsy Price (Robin Fin­na­com), and spacey, Christ­mas-lov­ing Rayn­erd Chisum (Pa­trick Shoen­berger).

Will Honey Ray’s pro­duc­tion come to­gether smoothly in the fi­nal hour, or, fail­ing that, sur­vive the ab­surd on­slaught of in­creas­ingly goofy shenani­gans? Has Twink learned about the con­se­quences of re­venge or will she strike again? Will the Futrelles and com­pany be able to learn the val­ues and mean­ing of Christ­mas amid all the chaos? The only way to find out is to come see the show.

The New­towne Play­ers new­comer Hin­kle, who plays Frankie, de­scribed re­join­ing the stage: “I had to re­learn the world of the­ater … I haven’t done any real the­atre since I was in high school. Be­ing back and re­learn­ing ‘stage right’ and ‘stage left’ … I had to keep look­ing at my hands.”

Vet­eran We­ber (who plays Honey Ray, the most li­cen­tious of the sis­ters Futrelle) said, “It’s a very cre­ative group, so ev­ery re­hearsal some­one would do some­thing in­cred­i­bly stupid and funny, and we would say ‘Yeah! We like that!’ and Beth [San­ford, the di­rec­tor] would nicely let us put it into the pro­gram.”

Jeff Ma­her, the as­sis­tant di­rec­tor, added, “To me, what I thought was great was we had a nice mix of re­ally new peo­ple and vet­er­ans, so it’s been fun watch­ing the chem­istry build — and I think peo­ple are go­ing to see that on stage. It’s re­ally a dy­namic cast.”

When asked if she had any funny sto­ries about the re­hearsal process, the di­rec­tor, Beth San­ford, laughed and said, “It’s been in­ter­est­ing putting on a show in a very busy time of year.”

Aid­ing San­ford in bring­ing Christ­mas cheer to the Three Notch The­atre is stage man­ager Kathryn Teague. The cos­tumes, which demon­strate that strange, funny, Texan sense of style, were de­signed by Mil­lie Co­ryer-Dhu, and the mul­ti­tudes of holly and/or jolly props are man­aged by Ja­nine San­ford, Kathryn Teague and Kris­ten Ma­her. The play was pro­duced by The New­towne Play­ers main­stay Fin­na­com, and lights and sound are han­dled by Ni­cholas Ashen­fel­ter and Jay McKulka.

The show runs Thurs­days through Satur­days at 8 p.m. and Sun­days at 3:30 p.m. from Nov. 30 through Dec. 16 at the Three Notch The­atre in Lex­ing­ton Park. Tick­ets can be pur­chased on­line at new­towne­play­ers.org. Dis­counts are avail­able for se­niors, stu­dents, mil­i­tary and chil­dren un­der the age of 12. Wear a fa­vorite “ugly Christ­mas sweater” to the show for an op­por­tu­nity to win a hand­made Christ­mas wreath.

PHOTOS BY RACHAEL LEISSNER

Honey Raye, played by Dawn We­ber, left, tries to get a han­dle on the Christ­mas pageant as Dub Dub­berly (Paul Rose) is be­ing pulled in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions by Frankie (Laura Hin­kle) and Geneva (Linda La­gle) in The New­towne Play­ers’ pro­duc­tion of “Christ­mas Belles.”

Above, Reyn­erd, played by Pa­trick Schoen­berger, left, lends an as­sist to the star of Beth­le­hem while char­ac­ter Justin as Joseph (Noah Busby) and Gina Jo as Mary (Hailey Leukhardt) act their parts in a re­hearsal of “Christ­mas Belles.” At left, Twink, played by Shan­non Fos­ter, cen­ter, is ir­ri­tated by pic­tures of her ex in a photo al­bum as GJ Dub­berly (Hailey Leukhardt, left) and Rhonda Lynn (Joanne Fue­sel) look on dur­ing re­hearsal.

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