DECATUR — The actors of Theatre 7’s holiday dinner theater are familiar with the story “Christmas Carol,” and now they can add their own twists to the classic tale.

The community theater troupe will perform “Christmas Chaos” Dec. 8 and 9, at the Decatur Club. Written by Michael Wehrli, the story is a parody of “Christmas Carol.”

“It is laugh-till-you-cry funny,” director Jan Hooten said.

"Christmas Chaos" follows a community theater company that hires a group of professional actors to perform the classic "A Christmas Carol." The company does all the work to bring the professionals to town, including selling tickets and providing the publicity.

“On the day of the performance, the very renown Shakespearean company is in Decatur all right,” Hooten said. “Decatur, Georgia.”

The local group of actors decides to make the play happen, but with only six hours to spare. The scenes are made up from whatever they can find, including the set and costumes.

“Some of the costumes don’t go with the period,” Hooten said.

The characters are also thrown into situations for which they aren’t prepared. The lead actor believes he is much better than the rest: “He thinks he is a professional,” Hooten said.

The stage manager wants everything to go perfect. Another character can’t figure out what play she is in and dons several outfits and quotes lines not related to the classic story. Two actors vie for the part of Tiny Tim. Older adults play the parts of children, and one actor performs as Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit at the same time.

Actor Kathy Zientara will play the Cratchit couple and is excited about the challenge. She particularly enjoys the sarcasm brought to a well-known tale.

“The lines give the story a new spin,” she said.

“Christmas Chaos” allows the actors opportunities to ad lib parts or use improvisation as well.

“You can have fun,” Zientara said. “It is more intimate with the audience.”

Dinner theater is also a fundraiser for Theatre 7, supplementing income from the seasonal shows.

“We do the dinner shows to bring in extra money to get by,” Hooten said. “But the new actors have been a wonderful byproduct of doing these fundraisers.”

Hooten said new actors are attracted to dinner theater because the shows are less intimidating and the audience interaction in a more intimate setting can be quite fun.

“It is a lot less pressure,” she said. “The rehearsal time is shorter.”

Christie Linder joined the Theatre 7 production because she thought the show would be ideal for a beginner. She had no acting experience but believed “Christmas Chaos” would work for her.

“It’s not a musical and takes only a month of my time,” she said. “It was something I really wanted to do.”

Macy Rueff joined the cast, also having never performed on stage, to try something different.

“I knew about Theatre 7 and wanted to try it out,” she said. “And I liked the storyline.”

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Staff Writer

“Together Decatur” columnist, food and entertainment reporter for the Herald & Review.

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