Play at Limelight Theater runs through Dec. 18

By Staff Reports

Limelight Theater’s holiday play “A Nice Family Christmas” puts the “fun” in dysfunctional. Opening Nov. 26, the dramedy features an ensemble cast of seven family members who learn life lessons as they face the challenges of a hilariously unpleasant Yuletide gathering.

Written by Phil Olson, the play is directed by Allie Bailey, with Robin Bezanson as managing director. The story takes place one Christmas Eve when a newspaper reporter must write a last-chance story about a typical family Christmas or else get fired. He chooses his own family made up of his widowed mother, his crazy uncle, his eccentric grandmother, and his battling siblings and their neurotic spouses.

The cast includes Justin Kerekes as “Carl,” Joanna Evans as “Mom,” Marilyn Pifer as “Grandma,” Jery Rosas as “Michael,” Karyn Morton as “Stacy,” Peter Mandel as “Uncle Bob,” and Caitlin Jachimowicz as “Jill.” The show is set in Mom’s condo in Minnesota.

In directing the play, Bailey said the cast has created a tremendously endearing chemistry as they face the challenges of a difficult family gathering with a mixture of quirkiness and tenderness.


“It’s extremely funny and you might see a bit of yourself in some of these characters,” she said. “I think that’s what art is supposed to display, it’s supposed to be a reflection of the world back to us. This is a Christmas where they talk about all the difficult things and things get revealed to the audience. But they’re wrapped into a nice comical package. If you want a fun evening with your friends, this is the show to go to.”

As the curmudgeonly Grandma, Pifer brings a “tough love” tone to the play as she cuts through the niceties of family gatherings and hits other members of the family with painful reality.

“We all oftentimes feel pressured to behave certain ways when we’re with our families, especially when we haven’t seen some of them,” she said. “Sometimes we tip-toe around. This family doesn’t really tip-toe. They just come right out with it. And they all get through it, and at the end everything gets resolved, and it’s clear that they really are a family.”

Bailey describes the show’s family as “wholesomely dysfunctional.” The characters are not intentionally cruel to each other but are facing emotional challenges under the surface.

“It’s about that ribbing and that loving kind of dynamic,”  she said. “And at the end they all love each other and want to support each other, but they all have their personal struggles in what they go against.”

Robert Airoldi