‘Broadway Santa’ has a tale to tell

Santa is heading to the Great White Way to tell the musical story of his life. But will the show be a hit?

Find out when Playmakers of Baton Rouge opens “Broadway Santa” on Dec. 6 at the Reilly Theatre on the LSU campus.

  • “He thinks there’s a really good story in what they do at the North Pole, and he wants to tell it,” says Robbie Wilson, who plays Santa Claus in the play written by Andy Beck and Janet Gardner. “Santa is a man of many hidden talents, but he discovers that his biggest talent is his work at the North Pole. But he’s enthusiastic. He believes he can do this.”
  • “And he has a lot of support from this wife and workers,” adds Emily Rodriguez, who plays Mrs. Claus. “Mrs. Claus is very patient, but she has to keep him on track at times.”

Wilson is probably best known for playing Ebenezer Scrooge in Playmakers’ past productions of “A Christmas Carol.”

“I’d go back to playing Scrooge in a minute, because his is a story of redemption,” Wilson says. “But Santa Claus is a happier character. It’s just been a lot of fun playing him.”

Wilson admits the padding in his red suit is his own weight, and the Santa’s beard will be his own.

“And at the end of each performance, kids will be able to meet Santa,” says Todd Henry, Playmakers’ executive director. “They’ll be able to sit on his knee and tell him what they want for Christmas and take pictures with him.”

They’ll also be less likely to be afraid of Santa after watching him try to produce his musical, which does eventually make it to Broadway. But as the North Pole cast quickly discovers, real-life humor sometimes doesn’t translate to the stage.

“They learn there’s no place like home,” Wilson says. “And they discover that the Broadway set looks exactly like their home in the North Pole.”

Playmakers asked children to send in designs of how they thought Santa’s workshop would appear.

The children’s work was used in designing the set.

It’s all brought together on stage by director Jason Bayle. “Broadway Santa” is his second musical of the season. He directed Theatre Baton Rouge’s “Nine to Five” in September.

“I have to give my wife, Mary, full credit,” Bayle says. “She did the choreography for this show. She also did the choreography for ‘Nine to Five.’”

Bayle gathers with Wilson and Rodriguez in the Reilly’s green room at the moment. Outside, younger cast members rehearse the opening musical number.

“It’s been a lot of fun working with the kids,” Bayle says. “It’s a funny show, and the kids have jumped in and worked hard at it.”

So, find your way to the snowy North Pole as the North Pole maps its journey to the Great White Way as Playmakers puts the spotlight on Santa Claus.

  • CAST: Robby Wilson, Santa Claus; Emily Rodriguez, Mrs. Claus; Carter Dean, Mr. Hathaway; Mercedes Wilson, Stage Manager; Kamrin Kennedy, Postman; Reindeer: Makaylee Secrest, Eden James, Anna Deshotel, Vivian Brown, Dre’lan Evans, Madison Henderson, Bre Reed and Noah Wilson; Elves: Laurel Bourg, Anna Katherine Harrell, Susie Lucas, Landon Simpson, Bailey Cook, Madison Roy, Emma Grace Lambert, Emery Gischler, Ashley Stevens and Daniela Latil.
  • ARTISTIC STAFF: Jason Bayle, director; Lisa Smith, music director; Elizabeth Cowan-Thomas, set designer; Wil Thomas, set designer; Devon Lamond, sound designer; Adam Waguespack, lighting designer; Patrick Sullivan, costume designer; Katrina Despain, costume designer; Mary Bayle, choreographer; Maile Binion, stage manager.