The holiday season was officially ushered into UC Clermont on Tuesday with Virginia Rep on Tour’s performance of Twas the Night Before Christmas. Children and parents alike were given a hefty dose of Christmas cheer as the enthusiastic cast told the fantastic story of the writing of the famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
The play centers on an exuberant New York City professor named Clement Moore and his family in 1822. Every Christmas, Moore writes a cheery holiday poem for his wife and two daughters to make them happy. By his own admission, these poems are usually pretty mediocre, but this year he believes he needs to write a good one. His daughter Charity is sick, and he thinks if he can compose a good enough poem, she will be filled with enough holiday cheer to make it through.
His love for his daughter cannot seem to overcome his writer’s block though, and he keeps throwing his drafts away. Luckily, a talking mouse and two dancing sugar plums appear to help him out. After singing a song about Clement needing to use his imagination like a child, they point him toward an elderly Dutch workman named Cringle for inspiration.
Clement and Cringle reminisce on the legends of St. Nicholas from their childhood but soon wish to brainstorm a new vision for him. At that time, St. Nicholas was thought to be skinny and stern, but Clement wants to make him like Cringle: fat, bearded, and jolly. Together, they finish the poem and plan to have Cringle come to Clement’s house dressed as Santa and act the poem out on Christmas Eve to cheer up the children.
The night of Christmas Eve arrives and Cringle is nowhere to be found. Too tired to wait up, the family goes to bed. But, Cringle just wanted to stay true to the poem; now that everyone is asleep, he arrives down the chimney with a big bag of toys. Charity gets very excited and believes that Cringle is the real Santa Claus, so Moore and his wife try to explain that it’s just Cringle. But, it turns out that Charity is right; Cringle had been the real Santa Claus all along. He pulls out a letter Charity had written him, asking for her sickness to go away and for her father to write a great poem and says her wishes have been granted. He then tells Moore to publish the poem so that the whole world can know the truth about him.
When the play ended the children and parents in the audience were filled with Christmas excitement. After a performance like Twas the Night Before Christmas, Christmas cannot come soon enough.