Inside JCPRD: Christmas chaos is just around the corner! (Brace yourself!)

A Campbell Family Christmas won Theatre in the Park's Innovative Theatre Challenge this year.

By Tim Bair

Ok. Yes. I know it’s only November. And I also know… well… some folks don’t really wanna hear any Ho-Ho-Ho-ings or delicate hoofs clomping on the rooftop til WELL into December. And, I’m sorry that I have to break the moratorium on all things red-white-green-and-jolly. But it must be done.

I just gotta tell you about our upcoming holiday show – “A Campbell Family Christmas”! It is the musical that won our Innovative Theatre Challenge this year! The show is written by Soph Marsh and Joel Walley. And… it is a delight!

If you’d like to be entertained by a little holiday chaos dumped on a family other than YOUR OWN… you probably gotta see it.

So… as the story goes… Maddie is planning the “perfect” Christmas-(slash)-Hanukkah for her family. Hubby Joe is trying to help, well… where he can. But when your main objective is to hang lights on the house that your father-in-law will be impressed by, well, it’s a little hard NOT to have tunnel vision.

Things get a little tricky when a snowstorm delays Maddie’s Mom and Dad’s arrival, and trickier still when (for some reason we may never find out) they are not answering their phone! Oh yeah, and they are supposed to pick up Grandma on their way.

Then there’s the cookie-baking-crazed-neighbor that keeps popping in and delivering full plates of cookies, even though Maddie has made it clear that her sister Diane is a vegetarian, and that it would really be best if the cookies were not taunting the vegan the moment she walked in the door. Apparently, there was a not-so-long-ago incident with Diane and some gravy. It had something to do with the vegan thing. Oh, and Mom having a few too many glasses… of something. Go figure.

Maddie is under the impression that her sister Diane (the vegan hippie) is going to arrive shortly, only to learn that she now resides in Canada with her soulmate Thor who she met in the parking lot of a Whole Foods. The interesting part of that (if the Thor part isn’t interesting enough) is that she met him as she was going to the store to pick up what SHE was bringing to the dinner party! (Clearly, she is going to have a hard time making it for dinner.)

Luckily, her brother Howard will be there soon!

Well… actually, not so much. It seems that after a chance meeting in a cute coffee shop, Howard falls head over heels with Rachel. She’s Jewish. And she loves mustard pretzels. (Not that the pretzels have anything to do with anything. It’s just a fun fact.) Howard decides that it’s true love and… becomes Jewish… and decides that a bit of minor surgery is in order, just to make things official apparently. Come to find out there is a slight complication, some pain, and Rachel decides to circumvent the dinner party and make a quick diversion to the nearest hospital. Will he ever be able to… well… you know. Unknown. (And Rachel decides that would be a bummer for everyone!)

Oh, back to Grandma. She is (shall we say…) rum-loving and decides to get her groove on with an impromptu holiday soirée with a group of carolers that stopped by… and she invited in. By this time, she’s forgotten Mom and Dad were gonna pick her up and is just looking forward to New Year’s cocktail hour!

There are a few other things… some kugel, an ever-green allergy, a dash for vegan eggnog (is that even a thing?!), a secretly meat-filled vegan pot of soup, and there’s all the holiday chaos I mentioned earlier!

There are delightful tunes, quick and clever dialogue, and some sweet moments too. I think you’ll really like it. Oh, one more thing. The actor who plays Howard also plays Grandma, and the actor playing Diane also plays Linda, the crazed neighbor with cookies. How, you ask? Theatre magic. (And Velcro.)

“A Campbell Family Christmas” plays one weekend: December 17 at 7:30pm, 18 at 7:30 pm and 19 at 2 pm., inside the Black Box Theatre at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park. Order tickets or read more about the show at

Join us! We’ll be very glad to see you! (Ho-ho-ho!)