Review by Amber C. Nore
The Christmas Express, Olde Glory Theatre, Friday December 9, 2022
I had the pleasure of attending the Old Glory Theatre production of The Christmas Express by Pat Cook, produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing and directed by Megan Boggs.
Driving into Seward at Christmas time is a treat in itself. The town is decked in lights, including the beautiful courthouse and downtown area. It looks right out of a snow globe scene! Olde Glory Theatre is housed in a historic church that was built in 1873, the theatre was lovingly purchased and restored by a group of local residents in 2013 in order to bring a space for community theatre to Seward. Photographs from the past productions, concerts and events held at the theater line the walls, as you walk past them to be seated in an auditorium. For the holiday, there was a beautiful Christmas tree and a portrait of Santa to greet you.
Dinner was served promptly by servers dressed up festively for the holiday season. The delicious hot meal consisted of generous slices of ham, green bean casserole, hashed brown potato casserole, a dinner roll with butter and water to drink. Dessert offered hot coffee and one of three homemade options of chocolate cake, coconut cake or cheesecake with cherries on top. During intermission, servers brought the audience cans of cold soda pop or bottled water, all included with your ticket.
While I was eating dinner, I enjoyed looking at the Holly Railway Station set, described in the program as “a slightly out-of-date train station. It used to be a depot but the residents of Holly thought ‘Station’ sounded better and they didn’t feel like hicks when they went down to pick up their fertilizer.” Built by Denise Christensen, Zeb Barts, Philip Dani, Janis Luebe and JoAnn Boshart, every small detail was present: a large old radio, historic train station photos, an arrival/departure board, a giant wall clock and even cups of coffee with spoons. It looked exactly like I would picture a 1950’s era old train station. I was impressed.
Our show opens in the Holly Station as Hilda Trowbridge (played by Angela Kaspar) and her assistant Satch (played by Justin Baldinger) argue about the time while she dreams of traveling to Australia. We discover that Hilda’s father used to run the Holly Station, back when it was bustling with travelers. The mailman, Mack Clooney (played by Dalton Mobley), arrives with the day’s mail and it is instantly thrown in the trash. There are no signs of Christmas decoration or any holiday spirit. Out of nowhere, a dapper but mysterious stranger strolls into the station. Curious as to what train brought him in, as they didn’t have any on the schedule, Hilda and her friends watch in amazement as the stranger effectively deflects their inquiries while instantly cheering up the station with Christmas spirit! His name is Leo Tannenbaum (played by Brody Schofield) and he announces that he is waiting for The Christmas Express. Hilda is gobsmacked to hear this, because The Christmas Express hasn’t come to Holly in ages. Joined by the town journalist Penelope Blaisedale (played by Sara Erickson) and Myrna Hobsnagle (played by Danielle Bouzek), an arguing but loving married couple of Donna Fay Cummings and Jerry Cummings (played by Haleigh Fitzsimmons and Adam Prince), the residents of Holly begin to holly and jolly their way into the Christmas Spirit that was sorely missing before Leo Tannenbaum arrived. The station acquires a tree, decoration, Christmas carols, cookies…and a BIG Christmas surprise! Mr. Fairfax (played by Ken Baldinger) and Deborah Smith (played by Vicki Luebbe, playing double duty as the Stage Manager) add an element of mystery to the story with their roles.
Described by the publisher as a “nostalgic theatrical greeting card is full of eccentric small town characters, wise-cracking their way to finding the true wonder of Christmas. And on the way, they make us all wish we could take a ride on The Christmas Express.”
The tech crew ensured a flawless performance with lights (Bob Boshart) and sound (Hannah Kruse). Also delightful were the costumes designed by JoAnn Boshart, Denise Christensen and the Cast.
Director Megan Boggs, who is also a member of the Board of Directors for Olde Glory Theatre, has assembled an excellent cast of actors, all of who are returning to the Olde Glory Stage. Everyone performed strongly in their roles. Shining especially bright were Justin Baldinger, Dalton Mobley and Danielle Bouzek.
I spoke with the director after the show and she was full of excitement about the production and the benefit that the theatre brings to the Seward community. Boggs reports that their goal to “be debt free by 2023” has been met and there are many wonderful events and shows coming up!
Will the station close down? Is Leo Tannenbaum really who he claims to be? Will Satch’s watch ever run again? Find out by getting your ticket today! This is truly an entertaining experience not to be missed.
If you go: The Christmas Express runs December 7-12. Show times are Wednesday & Thursday at 7pm (concessions are available for purchase) tickets are $17. Friday, Saturday and Monday at 7:15pm with a ham dinner & dessert for $27. Doors open at 6pm, dinner is served at 6:30pm. Sunday matinee at 2pm, with Dessert for $22. Doors open at 1pm, desserts served at 1:30pm and the show begins at 2pm.
Tickets are available by calling 402-302-5932 or online at www.oldeglorysewardne.com
Please visit the website further information and a list of upcoming events. Follow on Facebook and Instagram @oldeglorytheatre for updates!
Amber C. Nore is a singer/actress/writer who has performed locally with TADA Theatre, Angels Theatre Company, Pinewood Bowl and Lincoln Community Playhouse and nationally with Spokane Repertory Theatre and Rogue Players. She sings in the band Andy Pappas & Jukebox Gyro, the debut album “Inside Voices” is available on iTunes and Spotify. Her favorite role has been Stage Mom to her daughter, Chloe. Amber is the Community Relations Manager for Mosaic in Southeast Nebraska. She lives with her cat in an art gallery in the Haymarket and loves to support local businesses/music/events with her partner, Patrick.
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