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Springs Ensemble Theatre's 'Gnome in the Room' not your mama's Christmas play

December 7, 2017 Updated: December 7, 2017 at 10:17 am
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photo - Actors Cyndi Parr, Bob Morsch and Emory John Collinson star in Springs Ensemble Theatre's "The Gnome in the Room," Dec. 7-17.
Actors Cyndi Parr, Bob Morsch and Emory John Collinson star in Springs Ensemble Theatre's "The Gnome in the Room," Dec. 7-17. 

The all-volunteer Springs Ensemble Theatre concludes its eighth season with a humdinger of an original production.

The title gives you an idea of what's in store: "The Gnome in the Room: An Anti-Christmas Christmas Play Involving Decorations, Death, Divorce, Relatives, Mythological Beings Who Can't Keep their Noses Out of Other People's Business, and a Nintendo Entertainment System."

"The Gnome in the Room," written by executive producers and SET members Jenny Maloney and Jessica Weaver, is about 10-year-old Joel (played by Bob Morsch), whose family decides to forgo celebrating Christmas partly because his dad has just left his mom. Joel and his mom (Cyndi Parr) get away from their troubles at a secluded family cabin in the woods and find a depressed uncle has had the same thought. Meanwhile, Joel mourns the Nintendo Entertainment System he'd wanted for Christmas. There the story takes an '80s horror movie turn.

"It's definitely not your traditional Christmas story. We're happy with traditional holiday plays, but I think having a new take on what we see and experience is refreshing. We wanted it to be horror, but campy horror," said Maloney, who directed the play with Max Ferguson.

A Krampus-like character, "Weirdo" (Taylor Geiman), lives in the woods, senses the family's lack of Christmas spirit and offers Joel a statue of The Gnome in the Room (a riff on the seasonally ubiquitous Elf on the Shelf) that isn't what it seems. Ultimately, the struggling family must get along or face peril.

"Unfortunately, if you lose the Christmas spirit in the woods, weird things happen," Maloney said.

Weaver, who now lives in Washington state, and Maloney, of Colorado Springs, brainstormed the script by video conferencing and using WriterDuet software to collaborate in real time.

"This is the second play I've written with Jessica. She and I have been writing since last November," Maloney said. "Our first rule was not saying no to anything."

The result is a one hour and 45-minute production that has choreographed fight scenes "with a lot of physical humor" and a fantasy dance sequence, she said. The play, with some vulgar language, should be enjoyed by ages 16 and up.

"It's a wild show," Maloney said.

Look for Weaver's original play "The Last Rabbit" at SET in October 2018.

MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, 476-1602, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM

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