MARYSVILLE – I had never been to a middle school play before – ever. I’ve been missing out.
The title of the play, “The Trial of Santa,” intrigued me so much I decided to go to the Cedarcrest Middle School performance.
Back in my day, middle schoolers were shy. With those type of actors, a play couldn’t be more boring.
But middle schoolers today – they are hams. They are so expressive in their faces, voices and actions. You can’t help but be engaged.
The play centers around Emily Worthington (Zaida Woods), who told Santa what she wanted for Christmas at a mall, and he didn’t bring it to her. It was some kind of fancy My Little Pony package.
Because she didn’t get it, she was suing Santa (Luis Banales Medina) for $10 million for emotional distress. The play is done in a People’s Court setting – even the music is the same. But Judge Trudy (Brooklynn Dirvanowski) will decide the verdict. Shirley (Melanie Powell) is the announcer in the case of Worthington vs. Claus and (Annie Brediger) is the bailiff.
Emily’s attorney Wickersham (Christopher Ross) in his opening statements says Santa lies to children. A group of elves in the gallery (Scarlet Fisher, Lyde Callagan, Abby Kane, Kebron Kidanu and Faith Ellis-Lonstreth) react negatively to that comment.
On the stand, Emily calls Santa a fraud and liar and said his actions put her in a deep depression.
Mrs. Worthington (Adeline Warner) then takes the stand, and Santa’s attorney Winklebottom (Julianna Kilroy) puts her on the defensive. When Worthington says she “thinks” she’s a good mom, Winklebottom attacks, providing numerous instances when she wasn’t. The clinching statement was when Winklebottom asked why Mrs. Worthington did buy the gift for her daughter herself if she was such a good mom.
Some of the best lines in the Don Zolidis short comedy came when Rufflesniffer (Mi’Kaylaa Miles) came to the stand. She had been fired as an elf. She said she built My Little Pony toys, but one was not made for Emily. Rufflesniffer then shocked everyone by saying when the elves fall behind in toy making, they cut corners and order from Amazon.com. That’s when orders get lost, she said.
When Winklebottom started badgering the witness, Wickersham objected. “I’ll allow it. This is fun,” Judge Trudy said, bursting out laughing.
Winklebottom asks Rufflesniffer what Wickersham promised her to betray Santa. “Candy” was the answer.
Next on the stand was Rudolph (Dakota Fisher), Santa’s loyal red-nosed reindeer. But not for long. By the end of Rudolph’s testimony, Wickersham had the deer convinced that by not paying him he was a slave to Santa.
At one point in the play, Santa became so frustrated at the negative talk about him and Christmas that he stood up and yelled, “If you don’t like it you can celebrate Hanukkah.”
A classmate of Emily’s named Jenny Lowenstein (Sky Hobley) also took the stand, and gave instances when Emily was not a good little girl.
When Santa came to the stand, he explained how with so many people in the world now he’s had to go digital. He’s also had to change in other ways. He used to give out coal to kids when they were “naughty.” But that “traumatized” them. So now, they just don’t get what they want. He testified he never promised Emily the toy she wanted.
Wickersham asked how Santa makes sure he doesn’t miss any houses at Christmas. “I’m better than Google Earth,” Santa joked.
But when Wickersham pointed out Santa had missed some houses, and that maybe at age 400 Santa was getting too old, the not-so-jolly-old elf called the attorney naughty. “I’m a lawyer. Naughty is my middle name,” Wickersham said.
Santa ends up winning the case, when it comes out at the end of the trial that Emily actually had told a mall Santa what she wanted, not the real Santa.
Director Darren Oke started off the show by saying, “The program is growing.” I can certainly see why. The casting was terrific, as were the costumes and actors.
Steve Powell is managing editor of The Marysville Globe-The Arlington Times. His column, called Backseat Coach, runs as the need arises.