Fire Hall Theatre in Grand Forks to present 'Christmas Belles,' a play billed as 'a yuletide comedy'
"This play is pure joy and laughter, and has a lot of heart, in addition to a heaping portion of Southern-fried holiday spirit," says director Emily Wirkus.
The Fire Hall Theatre is presenting “Christmas Belles,” a play billed as “a Southern-fried, yuletide comedy,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays, Dec. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 5 and 12.
The performance “is sure to make even the ‘Grinchiest’ among us crack a smile,” said Amy Driscoll, interim executive director of the Fire Hall Theatre.
The story centers on a church’s Christmas program that “spins hilariously out of control in this Southern farce about squabbling sisters, family secrets, a surly Santa, a vengeful sheep, and a reluctant Elvis impersonator,” Driscoll said.
The show’s director, Emily Wirkus, an instructor in the UND Theatre Arts Department, is assisted by Erin Chaves. Stage manager is Alex Rice and set construction is by Jared Kinney.
Cast members are: Ashley Rystad, Cathleen Norton, Brenna Skallet, Becca Cruger, Ben Schille, Brooke Pesch, Lucas Reider, Debbie Todhunter, Laura Gerla, Jared Kinney and Matt Stavens.
This is the first play that Wirkus has directed at the Fire Hall Theatre, which is “very exciting,” she said. She has appeared on stage in a few Fire Hall productions, including “A Christmas Carol” and “Ruthless!,” over the years.
“Working with the Fire Hall has always been a wonderful and inclusive experience,” Wirkus said. “I am thrilled to be able to work with them again in this capacity.”
Driscoll selected “Christmas Belles” for this holiday season because “after a long pandemic, she felt that audiences are ready for a good laugh,” Wirkus said, and that “it would be fun to present something fun and fresh this winter season with a holiday farce that the Greater Grand Forks area may not have heard of or seen before. (The selection of this play) is a home run on her part."
Driscoll was drawn to the message of “Christmas Belles,” she said. What she appreciates most about the play is “it shows us things don’t have to be perfect to be successful.
“Holidays can be so stressful when we get mired down in all the details, and this play is a good reminder that, at the end of the day, it’s not about what’s happening around us, but who is surrounding us that’s important,” she said.
While the play is “mostly family friendly,” Driscoll said, “there is some language and content that make it inappropriate for young children. We’d give it a rating of PG-13.”
Masks are “highly encouraged and much appreciated,” she said. General admission tickets for all seats will be sold and audience members can socially distance as much as they like, as long as there are open seats.
Those who are attending in large groups are encouraged to arrive closer to 7 p.m., when the house opens, so they have access to seats right away, Driscoll said. Anyone who needs accessibility accommodations may call the theatre or send an email in advance.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for seniors (65 and older), students with a college ID and active military. Tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting www.ggfct.com or by calling the box office and leaving a voice-message, (701) 746-0847. They may be purchased at the door before the show; the box office is open one hour before curtain.
Anyone interested in volunteering to usher or sell concession items may see the show for free. They are encouraged to sign up at: https://m.signupgenius.com/#!/showSignUp/60b084cacab23a6f49-christmas .