By Lorraine Brown
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
It may be hard to believe, but these words and the remainder of the famous poem The Night Before Christmas were penned 200 years ago this year and then purpotedly deliberately burned.
On Christmas Eve 1822, the Reverend Clement Clarke Moore, a literature professor at a theological seminary in New York City wrote for his children what is believed to be the best-known poem in the English language.
An intellectual not wishing to be known as a writer of poetry, he then tossed it into the fireplace, But centuries later due to a turn of events, many parents are still able to read it to their wide-eyed children on Christmas Eve.
To mark the 200th anniversary of this heartwarming poem, ECHO Players is staging the play A Visit From St Nicholas or The Night Before Christmas by Lowell Swortzel at the Village Theatre, through Dec. 27.
The story of how this famous poem was reduced to ashes but resurrected through the ingenuity and determination of children is brought to life in vivid detail by director Mari Lyn Kelly, who has fond memories of reading it to her own children when they were small.
Obviously enjoying every moment on stage, two alternating casts of energetic children bring the Moore children to life with lively enthusiasm for their roles, including their elder cousin Harriet who hatches a plan to resurrect the lost poem.
Depending on which performance you attend, you will enjoy cousin Harriet and the three child actors who make up two alternating teams, both immensely talented and enthusiastic.
There is never anything quite like the youthful exuberance and effervescent energy of children, especially in a Christmas performance.
The alternating role of Harriett is played by Dezzy Desvaux and Jaeda Dutton. Margaret Moore is played by Payton Duncan and Mya Unger, while Benjamin is played by David Balazs and Jett Ladouceur and Charity by July Bugg Cote and Joey Scoffings. Dena Lane plays the encouraging Mrs. Moore while Jack Duce plays the apprehensive Mr. Moore.
When the curtain rises you are at home in the cosy atmosphere of the Moore parlour, festooned with festive finery and all the stockings “hung by the chimney with care”, the creation of set designer Jolyon Brown, supported by Julian Parker and his amazing crew, along with finishing touches and attention to detail by Mary Leigh Warden and set painting by Jeanne Ackles-Cardinal. It’s an obvious labour of love.
The ghost of Clement Moore’s maternal grandfather played by Julian Packer, the ingenious idea of Warden, opens the play, along with jolly carolers.
Watch for the mischievous mice and Santa. too.
To quote the almost lost poem The Night Before Christmas, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night”.
Tickets are selling fast, so hurry, especially if you are planning on making it a family night out – online at www.echoplayers.com and at the theatre box office, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Or call 250-752-3522.