‘Greetings!” promises to spread holiday cheer with laughter, love

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AUBURN — Community Little Theatre sends holiday “Greetings!“ in a heartwarming, offbeat comedy that opens for two weekends beginning Friday, Dec. 5.

“This play is about a family that’s very much like families that everybody knows,” said Eileen Messina, who directs this show. “It’s just right for the Christmas season when people want to believe in miracles.”

The show opens on an airliner with Andy prepping Randi, his actress-waitress-fiancée, who is Jewish and an atheist, for a Christmas Eve visit with his very Catholic family. The visit is headed for disaster when Andy’s mentally-challenged younger brother, Mickey, whose entire vocabulary for some 30 years has been limited to “Oh boy,” and “Wow,” suddenly utters a loud and clear “Greetings.”

The family is astounded by the break-through to Mickey’s nonverbal world, and the unexpected messages that are unlocked for them.

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“There’s lots of humor in this play,” Messina said, adding that audiences who like to believe in magic will find this to be a delightful holiday experience. She said the play shows that small changes can make big differences in lives.

Andy’s father, who is a chronic complainer, is portrayed by Roger Philippon. He has been a CLT favorite in numerous comic and dramatic productions.

Emily, Andy’s mother, is played by Karen Lane. She appeared in CLT’s production of “Sylvia” as the wife whose husband’s affections are robbed by a dog.

The roles of Andy and Randi are played by Eric Cyr and Ashley Thibodeau. Cyr was seen in “Beau Jest,” presented by CLT last March. Thibodeau is new to the CLT stage. She has appeared in presentations by the Auburn Universalist-Unitarian Church.

Jason Pelletier plays Mickey. He has been seen in numerous productions in the Twin Cities including roles in CLT’s “Cinderella” and in Out-Of-The-Box Theatre’s “Hamlet,” both in 2011.

“Greetings!” was the first full-length play by Tom Dudzick. It debuted off-Broadway in 1990 starring Darren McGavin. Dudzick also is the author of the “Over the Tavern” trilogy, a semi-fictional trio of comedies based on his early family years in Buffalo, N.Y. Those plays include “The Last Mass at St. Casimir’s,” which was produced in 2009 by The Public Theatre in Lewiston.

Dudzick, in a discussion of “Greetings!” said, “With the inevitable family explosion comes an out-of-left-field miracle that propels the family into a wild exploration of love, religion, personal truth and the nature of earthly reality.”

Messina said CLT presented “Greetings!” in its 1995-96 season, and the director of that show was Messina’s mother, Mary Glen Rosenberg.

For those who still believe in the magic of Christmas, “Greetings!” is an unpredictable and heartwarming mix of religious, spiritual, and new age themes.

Audiences for “Greetings!” will also have a special treat in store when they find carolers greeting and singing for them as they enter the theater.

Messina said “Greetings!” is a family play, but she said audiences should be aware that it contains some strong language and adult situations.

Performances of “Greetings!” are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 5-6 and 12-13, as well as at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11; and at 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 7 and 14.

For tickets, call the box office at 783-0958 or go online to www.laclt.com.

Community Little Theatre shows are at the Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn.

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