Portraying author Clement Moore's family are (front) Ava Sullivan, Madison Ellis, Cade Shaw, (back),Olivia Phelps, Stephanie Reynolds and Camden Hood.
Portraying author Clement Moore's family are (front) Ava Sullivan, Madison Ellis, Cade Shaw, (back),Olivia Phelps, Stephanie Reynolds and Camden Hood.
An early Christmas present to the community arrives this weekend, filled with storytelling, songs, whimsy and a visit from a right jolly old elf.

The musical re-telling of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is presented by the Center Players Community Theatre Thursday- Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Madison Square Center for the Arts.

“This show will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit,” said Megan Mayhan, president of the theater company. “It’s a genuine, heart-warming show.

“Bradley Davis, who plays St. Nicholas, opens the show singing ‘O Holy Night.’ That’s worth the price of admission alone.”

Davis, a May graduate of Madison Central and now a freshman majoring in vocal performance at Tougaloo College, is a veteran of Center Player productions. He’s excited to play St. Nicholas, who he calls “a joyful character.”

Davis, with his rich baritone voice, said bringing the joy to the role means “it’s all in the laughter and the love of cookies.”

The musical tells the story of Clement Moore’s writing of the beloved Christmas poem, with a bit of magic thrown in. With just days until Christmas, the New York Evening Post has commissioned Moore to write a holiday story, but he has writer’s block. Moore is struggling to write at home with his wife and children in the midst of Christmas festivities, including carolers coming to his house. Then, the magic begins as visions of Sugar Plum Fairies, moving toys, and St. Nicholas himself help Moore bring the poem to life. The show concludes with the full cast singing the poem set to music.

“Anyone who loves Christmas will love this play. It’s very heart-warming,” Davis said.

Madison Ellis, who portrays the author Moore, agrees that heart-warming best describes the show. “This is one of the best ways you can start off your holiday,” said Ellis, who graduated in May with a degree in theater from Belhaven University. “It’s oozing with the holiday spirit.”

Ellis said he has a new appreciation of the original poem written in 1822. “You have to appreciate what Moore went through to create this poem that is so worthy of being honored.”

This production marks Ellis’s first role in a Christmas show. “It’s inspiring to see this poem come to life. I’m humbled to tell this story of the man who brought it to us.”

Tickets to the shows cost $15 for adults and $12 for seniors/students/military. The box office opens 30 minutes before each show at the arts center, 2103 Main Street.

Other cast members are: Stephanie Reynolds as Catherine Moore, Olivia Phelps as Margaret Moore, Camden Hood as Charles Moore, Cade Shaw as Benjamin Moore, Ava Sullivan as Charity Moore, Tommy Hoffman as Nicholas/Edward, Stephanie Chance as Ruth, and Elizabeth Wasson as Laura. Carolers are Ivy Graham, Genevieve Moore and J Perry. Sugar Plum Fairies are Campbell Browning, Gracie Hendon, Addy Huddleston, Kate Jasper, Adelaide Kirk, Emily Kay Kirk, Jane Bradley Madden, Caroline Sones and Morgan Trusty. Toys are Mary Leigh Williamson as the clown, Evie Watkins as the doll, Cannon Kirk as the Jack-in-the-Box, Carson Browning as Raggedy Ann, Nora Kate Robinson as the teddy bear and Gabby Caraway as the toy soldier.

The show’s director is McDade, assistant director is Elizabeth Wilson, and the choreographer is Grace Andrews.