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‘The Night Before Christmas’ brings humor and heart to the Lancaster Opera House

The Lancaster Opera House gives you plenty of opportunity to get in the holiday spirit with six showings of “The Night Before Christmas” between December 13-15.

Set around the North Pole on Christmas Eve, “The Night Before Christmas” follows a brother and sister who travel to Christmastown and get caught up in a plot to cancel Christmas. Featuring Santa Claus, his eight reindeer and a colorful cast of Christmas characters, this original musical with interactive elements provides a fun holiday entertainment for all ages.

Commissioned locally in 2013, the writing team of J. Michael Landis and Jay Wollin expanded upon a Christmas song they had written to complete their first two-act original musical.

“Since our goal was to write serious theater works, we approached the creation of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ with a level of ambition that maybe isn't common for family shows,” Wollin recalls. “There are interactive elements and things that preschoolers enjoy, but we didn't hold anything back and just wanted to make the best show we could.”

“Our goal was for young kids to understand it fully and be swept away by the story without getting bored, but also to keep adults engaged,” Landis adds. “This is a show with singing, tap dancing reindeer, and yet every year we get heartfelt praise from adults who weren't expecting to connect with it as much as they did. I think that's a large part of why the show has stayed strong every year; families make it an annual tradition, even as their kids start getting older than would typically appreciate Santa stories.”

The play was commissioned by David Bondrow, Artistic/Executive Director at LOH. “The theater had been producing a family Christmas show for 10 years but was looking for a new work. Landis and Wollin had a background in classical music and independent film in addition to theater and I knew they were hoping to build a full-length show from the ground up. The timing worked and less than a year later, ‘The Night Before Christmas’ was born,” Bondrow recalls. But the show has evolved over the years.

“We added songs in years two and five and have reserved the right to tinker with it each year,” jokes Wollin, who plays Fafnir the Frost Giant. Landis, who now works at Lancaster Opera house, is heavily involved in the rehearsal process. “I like to feel that every year provides some fresh discovery, a way to keep the work vibrant,” he says.

With one performance on Friday, three on Saturday and two on Sunday, the show runs about 90 minutes with a brief intermission. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for children. Click here to purchase tickets and for specific show times.