Miracles are something you never see coming. So it’s fitting that Miracle on Christmas Lake, Yellow Tree Theatre’s most popular play, happened by mistake. The original comedy was written on the fly by Yellow Tree co-founder Jessica Lind Peterson (loosely based on the story of founders Jessica and husband Jason saving their theatre from going under) when Yellow Tree lost the rights to a holiday production during their 2008 inaugural season. This mistake ended up being the best thing that could have happened to the fledgling theatre, as Miracle on Christmas Lake sold out for three years and aided a rapid rise in the theatre’s success.
This year, there’s a big build-up in excitement for the sequel, Miracle on Christmas Lake II. Mary Fox, actor in past years, remains a part of the adventure. “It’s a completely zany, laugh-out-loud, bust-a-gut show, and it’s got its fair share of stereotypical Minnesota-isms,” she explains.
However, Fox stresses that under all the unique comedy “the characters are heart-felt, sensitive and genuine.” Jessica verifies that audiences will recognize recurring characters, including Tess and Colin, as well as meeting new ones in the upcoming show.
While the first play was written in three sleep-deprived weeks, Jessica had a luxurious three months to write this second installment in a planned trilogy. “I’ve been thinking about it for a year,” she says. “Like the original, it’s full of mayhem and shenanigans.”
Without giving too much away, Christmas Lake II involves a wedding. Past audiences can probably guess who is getting hitched. As the big day approaches, an unannounced visitor arrives and everything goes wrong. Will there be enough tater tot hot dish for the guests? Will Santa be sober enough to conduct the wedding ceremony? “It’s going to be a wild ride,” Jessica reveals through a grin.
As artistic director of the show, Jason Peterson says Jessica’s strength is comedy; she has a knack for writing off-the-wall, wacky characters. “I think the audience fell in love with them all,” he says. “And the play just fills you up with this gushy, holiday cheery feeling. Everyone loves a happy ending, especially during the holidays.”
Christmas productions that avoid brash colors, loud sing-alongs and Charles Dickens are hard to come by, so Christmas Lake II is a breath of fresh air in this fruitcake-scented season. Minnesota is fortunate to be able to claim ownership of an original holiday play set in its own backyard of Osseo.
The full houses at Yellow Tree Theatre are bound to repeat themselves this year as audiences remember the show and clamor to get in on the fun. “I used to watch people, while off stage, laughing so hard they were bent with their head at their knees and tears streaming down their faces,” says returning actor Carolyn Trapskin. “As an actor, it’s a blast to be in a show that captivates the audience like that.”
Yellow Tree’s intimate, 120-seat theatre puts audience members close to the action. It also allows devotees to share the hilarity moment-by-moment with gathered family, friends and neighbors. “It’s a great family show to bring your in-laws to during the holidays,” adds Jason.
Three years ago, Jessica and Jason set out to launch a high-level, professional theatre that also supports the development of new plays. “We will always be grateful,” for the ‘mistake’ that allowed us to create Miracle on Christmas Lake,” Jason says.
Catch the miracle this Christmas as the story continues.
Miracle on Christmas Lake II
by Jessica Lind
November 25 – January 1
7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: $17 | Friday: $23 | Saturday: $23 | Sunday: $20
Students, seniors 60 & up, Fringe button holders and groups of 10 or more receive $3 off.
Box office 763-493-8733, or order online