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Trafford's Theatre Factory looks at a modern Christmas

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
Cast members Linda Stayer of Murrysville and Andy Nesky of Munhall struggle over a poinsettia, during a scene rehearsal at the Theatre Factory in Trafford on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 17, 2012, of the Theatre Factory's upcoming production of 'Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas,' directed by Matt Mlynarski. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
(from left), Cast members, (from left), Nathan May, of Greensburg, Mike Hamilla, of Greensburg, and Andy Nesky, of Munhall, rehearse a scene at the Theatre Factory in Trafford on Saturday afternoon, November 17, 2012, of the Theatre Factory's upcoming production of 'Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas', under direction of Matt Mlynarski. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review

There is something the cast and crew of the Theatre Factory want patrons of the performing arts to know: There's more to the holiday season than “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker.”

Theatre Factory is staging an alternative show that takes a look at the struggle to find the true meaning of Christmas despite the commercialism, stress and chaos that often accompany the season.

The holiday season is barely under way, but the sarcastic woman in Theatre Factory's “Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas” has already had enough.

In her opening monologue, she states, in exasperation, “I'm too old to believe in it, too young to give up on it. Too cynical to get into it and too needy to stay out of it.”

Linda Stayer, who portrays the woman along with other characters in the Trafford community theater's holiday offering, says the cranky lady sets the tone of the musical for her.

“I have a feeling there are a lot of people who feel that way about Christmas,” she says.

Adapted by Ernest Zulia and David Caldwell with music and lyrics by Caldwell, “Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas” is based on the writings of Robert Fulgham, who is best known as author of his insightful book of essays, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

“Fulgham has been called the Will Rogers or Mark Twain of our day,” says Carol Connelly, Theatre Factory spokeswoman.

The production features storytelling and songs designed to instill the holiday spirit in its audiences.

“I think what makes this show special is how it tells real stories, and everyone can relate to some part of it,” says director Matt Mlynarski. “It is a very heartwarming and down-to-earth show and it can be a holiday classic.”

He says the show calls for actors who can pull the audience in and relate to them in a personal way. “It takes more than just good charisma, which is what I found in each one of my wonderful actors. They breathe life into the work.”

Stayer says that “Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas” presents a production unlike standard holiday fare and its characters display a lot of the real emotions that people feel this time of year.

“It's a refreshing change,” she says.

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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