There’s something stirring in Night

Advocate photo by ROBIN MILLERJorge Ponjuan, left, will play Sneed and Amy Dawson will play Emily in Playmakers of Baton Rouge's production of Ken Ludwig's children's play, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The play opens Friday, Dec. 7.
Advocate photo by ROBIN MILLERJorge Ponjuan, left, will play Sneed and Amy Dawson will play Emily in Playmakers of Baton Rouge's production of Ken Ludwig's children's play, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The play opens Friday, Dec. 7.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Hmmm. This isn’t exactly accurate, because we see a creature stirring, and he is a mouse. His name is Amos.

And he’s here to make a few corrections to the classic Clement Clarke Moore poem. Well, that’s not exactly accurate, either, because Amos’ story may begin with the same line as Moore’s, but it tells a tale mapped out by Ken Ludwig.

It’s an adventure wrapped in mystery and intrigue seasoned with action along the way. Who knew so much could happen during the night before Christmas?

Then again, everyone knows that this particular night is magical. How would Santa be able to deliver gifts throughout the world, otherwise?

But, you know, Emily’s house wasn’t included among those deliveries last year. She wasn’t even naughty, but she must have landed on Santa’s Naughty List.

But how?

“She finds out that someone has been messing with Santa Claus’ Naughty and Nice lists,” Shawn Halliday said. “She’s been extra good this year, but she’s learned that someone has stolen the lists. So, she and Amos set out to save Christmas by finding the lists.”

Halliday is Playmakers of Baton Rouge’s producing artistic director, as well as director of the company’s regional premiere of Ludwig’s children’s play, ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. The production opens Friday, Dec. 7, in the Reilly Theatre at LSU.

There also will be a pay-what-you-can performance on Thursday, Dec. 6, which will include a “Countdown to Christmas” party, where patrons will be encouraged to drop off coats to benefit Pat’s Coats for Kids.

All of this leads to the question, will Emily and Amos be able to save Christmas?

Emily is the main character of this story. She’s a typical 10-year-old excited by the prospect of Santa’s visit. And as everyone now knows, Amos is a mouse.

“Amos and Emily know each other,” Halliday said. “They’ve been friends for a long time, and when Emily’s uncle begins reading ’Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, Amos comes out and corrects him on the line, ‘Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.’”

Because Amos is a mouse, and he’s definitely stirring. If he weren’t, the adventure would never roll.

“Ken Ludwig ia Tony Award-winning playwright,” Halliday said.

True. Ludwig is known for such Broadway hits as Crazy for You, Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo.

“He started writing children’s plays, and they’re well done,” Halliday continued. “’Twas the Night Before Christmas takes a lot of twists and turns, and it’s so witty and funny. I think our audiences will have a lot of fun with it.”

Amy Dawson definitely is having fun with it. She plays Emily, and settling into a 10-year-old’s mindset has been an adventure in itself.

“She’s fearless, but she’s also innocent,” Dawson said. “And I think it’s because of her innocence that she’s fearless. Does that make sense? It’s because of her innocence that she doesn’t think anything bad can happen, so she’s not afraid.”

Dawson is a graduate of the LSU Department of Theatre. She recently returned to acting after taking a break.

“It’s been so much fun being a kid again,” Dawson said.

She stood in the Reilly wearing a little girl’s dream of the quintessential Christmas dress. The top is red velvet, the bottom flounces in white satin. This is what the 10-year-old Emily will wear on her adventure on the night before Christmas.

Will she and Amos succeed in the rescue of Santa’s list? Well, that question will be answered only at the Reilly Theatre.

Where a creature is stirring.

And his name is Amos.