November 18, 2008 - December 28, 2008
By Marc Acito and C.S. Whitcomb
Directed By Jon Kretzu

Portland author Marc Acito, winner of the Oregon Book Award for How I Paid for College, co-wrote his first play with screenwriter Cynthia Whitcomb. In this hilarious look at one extraordinary holiday season in suburban America, a middle-class couple takes in a pagan homeless girl. She hates the holidays – except Halloween, of course – so the merriment begins in October. Against the odds, they make their way through a disastrous Thanksgiving and an outrageous Christmas to discover what it truly means to be a family.


Susannah Mars*

Todd Van Voris*++

Michael Mendelson*++

Damon Kupper

Ana Reiselman

Colton Lasater 

Karen Boettcher-Tate

Steve Rathje

Van Wilson McQueen/Bryce Walters (alternating)

Olivia Johnson/Cindra McQueen (alternating)

Melanie Keller
AnaSofia Villanueva


Scenic Designer
Jeff Seats

Lighting Designer
Jeff Forbes

Sound Designer
Rodolfo Ortega

Costume Designer
Sarah Gahagan

Properties Designer
Mina Kinukawa

Stage Manager
Michelle Jazuk*

Assistant Stage Manager
Tony McDowell-Laney*

Running Time:  2 hours

The Synopsis
Julia, a suburban mother of three, is preparing for Halloween. She encounters Luna, a homeless teenage girl on the street and feels compelled to bring her home. While Julia’s kids (especially daughter Olivia) are fascinated with the new person living under their roof, husband Scott and best friends Nicholas and Gabe are less certain that Julia’s made the right choice. A pagan, Luna hates the holidays, but sees an opportunity for a safe harbor. Things do not go smoothly: the family experiences a disastrous Thanksgiving dinner, meets several very unexpected guests and careens towards Christmas with the suburban status quo turned upside down. While Julia struggles with her need to be everything to everybody in her life, the ghost of her late mother badgers her with unsolicited advice. What’s a mother to do?

The Playwrights
Marc Acito is best known for his books Attack of the Theatre People and How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater, which won the Oregon Book Awards' Ken Kesey Award for the Novel. It was also selected as a Top Ten Teen Pick by the American Library Association. The New York Times chose College as an Editors Choice. It has been translated into five languages and has been optioned for film by Columbia Pictures. Acito graduated from Colorado College and went on to study singing in Europe on a Watson Fellowship. He has performed singing comic character roles with companies such as Seattle Opera, Opera Ireland and the Colorado Opera Festival. He is a commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Live Wire Radio. Acito resides in Portland, Oregon, “which is a good place to write because there are lots of strange people and it rains all the time.” He is also noted for his syndicated humor column, “The Gospel According to Marc.”

C.S. Whitcomb is a scriptwriter, author and teacher of the art of scriptwriting. She has been nominated for several awards, including an Emmy, Cable Ace, Edgar Allan Poe, Humanitas, and Writers Guild of America. She has sold over 70 feature-length screenplays, of which 29 have been filmed. In addition to her own works, Cynthia teaches scriptwriting. Among her alumni, she includes Marv Ross, whose award-winning The Ghosts of Celilo premiered as an Artists Repertory Theatre production last season, and Marc Acito with whom she collaborated on Holidazed. Her teaching credits include seven years at the UCLA Film School and over ten years teaching scriptwriting here in Oregon. Cynthia has also been President of Willamette Writers for several years.

Click here to download the Holidazed Educator Resource Kit. 

From an interview with Marc Acito and Stephanie Mulligan, Literary Manager, Artists Rep:

SM: What was the initial inspiration for the story?

MA: Years ago, a friend who's a mom in Lake Oswego complained to me how she resented being responsible for everyone else's magical Christmas. Since I'm keenly interested in the lives of women, I took note of the issue, particularly when another friend took in a tattooed, pierced art student and decided to simplify her holiday celebration. From there, the plot of Holidazed began to take shape. I wrote it first as a novel, but couldn't get the various elements to gel. So I turned to Cynthia to salvage it as a play.

SM: What are your thoughts on the collaborative process with Cynthia?

MA: Cynthia and I were already reading and critiquing each other's work, so collaborating was a natural step. This story wouldn't have seen the light of day without her. As a veteran of 29 movies of the week, she understands the mechanics of what it takes to get viewers back from commercial nine times, plus she's made it a mission to read a play a day for over a year now. So she knew exactly how to solve the problems that stopped my original story from working, whether it be changing a character or a plot point. Our agreement is that we only use something if we both like it. Luckily, we have the same taste, so we rarely argue. Mostly we try to impress each other with how clever we are.

SM: I love your characters. Are any of them based on friends or family members?

MA: All characters in fiction are like Frankenstein's monster – you create them out of spare body parts. Olivia, for instance, is very much a combination of Cynthia's daughter Molly when she was little, as well as my goddaughter Amy.

Recommended for high school and adult audiences. Mature themes.

*Member of Actor’s Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

+Equity Membership Candidate
++Member of Artists Repertory Theatre Resident Acting Company

Production Sponsors:

The Standard

Carol Wallace

The Reviews...

Enjoyable holiday romp. Enough fiction to be fun, enough reality to be interesting."

"The casting was perfect, and Susannah was the best I've ever seen her."

"Very moving and added a welcome measure of thoughtfulness and reflection in a season in which theatre can be a bit silly and shallow."

"It was a wonderful presentation. I could see it optioned as a Christmas movie very fast. A great holiday show. Susannah Mars was superb and the rest of the cast were great. We immediately began talking it up to friends."

"It had a very quick and sharp wit to it."

"The acting was superb by all; the set was creative; the was writing fun! It was a real treat to be able to see this play!"

Click here to read the press reviews

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