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Theatre Factory sets modern retelling of the Christmas story

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 5:36 p.m.
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Bruce Story-Camp, Edward Bostedo and Adam Seligson in a scene from “A Good Old-Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas” at the Theatre Factory

The director of The Theatre Factory's “A Good Old-Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas” feels the holiday show's title might be a bit misleading.

“When most of us see the word redneck, we tend to think of a certain style of comedy,” says D Palyo of Glassport. “That is not this show. This show is a very sweet and sincere country retelling of the Christmas story. It definitely is funny, and we have some great characters, but it's more Andy Griffith than Jeff Foxworthy.”

In some ways, the contemporary musical by Kris Bauske draws a parallel with the story of the Nativity and the Three Wise Men's visit. Only in this case, the three men are guys named Dave, Jimmy and Bill (played by Aaron Honick of West Homestead, Adam Seligson of Pittsburgh and Edward Bostedo of Trafford, respectively), and they're on a hunting trip. Their journey takes them to a cabin in the mountains, where they are spending Christmas Eve during a blizzard.

A young woman is about to deliver a baby, but her name is Mary Sue (played by Maddie Kae Gressman of Delmont), not Mary.

“Imagine the Christ story set in backwoods America, and you have the theme,” says Andrew Nesky of Munhall, who portrays the character Bob who doubles as the narrator in the production.

“Bob is a trucker whose truck has broken down in the backwoods southern town of Christmas,” Nesky says. “From his vantage point as ‘stranded customer waiting for his truck to be fixed,' he watches and comments as a sweet, simple Christmas story unfolds.”

Nesky says he likes his character a lot and although “his philosophy on the holiday isn't actually mine, in one way or another, he is a dear friend I've probably known all my life. Though I'm from the city, I spent my childhood summers in Confluence, Pa., a town just like Christmas.”

He has performed in several Theatre Factory productions, including “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Harvey” and “Polyester the Musical.” He also was in Apple Hill Playhouse productions, including this season's “Sin, Sex and the CIA” and “Death by Fatal Murder.”

Briana Downs of Delmont plays Lou, who owns the local diner. She says audiences will relate to Lou, the “mother hen” of the bunch, as well as to the other characters in the show. Downs directed “The BFG” for The Theatre Factory and was last seen in “The Female Odd Couple” at the Trafford theater.

Palyo says the main message in “Redneck Country Christmas” is that although, sometimes, people take for granted those who mean the most to them, the holiday season is about taking the time to show those people how important they really are in their lives.

“This show does that, along with making you laugh,” he says. “You will leave this show with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.”

He most recently directed the show “Brotherhood” for Pittsburgh New Works Festival and was in The Theatre Factory's production of “Anything Goes.”

Also in the cast are Bruce Story-Camp of Munhall, Erika Shirrell of Pittsburgh, Savannah Bruno of Leechburg and Christopher Robin of Irwin. Doug Skalka is music director.

The Theatre Factory will host a holiday party and subscriber-appreciation event at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at the theater. Admission is free for subscribers, $15 for nonsubscribers. Entertainment will be by Two Girls & A Guy; refreshments will be provided.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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