In 1954 suburbia, five best friends (all named Carol) set out to present
a Christmas program that people “will remember for the rest of their lives” at
the local high school. Unfortunately, egos, miscommunication, and a power
outage turn their quest for perfection into a madcap misadventure that somehow
manages to salvage their camaraderie and the spirit of the holidays. Bursting
with wonderful new songs and lush arrangements of Christmas classics, this
riotous romp is destined to become a yuletide favorite.
On a December evening in 1954, Carol Ann Farrell is at home with her Cousin Ray, busily preparing for this evening’s PTA program. Her fellow performers begin to arrive one by one (“A Holiday Hello”). First is Karil “Kitty” Kitteridge, bringing with her the costumes that she has designed and sewn. Next is Queryl “Miss Q” Pomerantz, bearing something mysteriously hidden under a large cloth covering. Finally, Car’l “Noyesy” Noyes and Carroll “Ling-Ling” Ling enter from a long day of shopping. They greet each other cheerily and sing about the evening in store, accompanied on the piano by Cousin Ray. Carol Ann then attempts to review their checklist of last minute preparations but is distracted by Ling-Ling sharing photos of her five children and Noyesy talking about the frustrations of her shopping trip. This leads to some juicy gossip about their various neighbors (“My Favorite Christmas Dish”). As they reminisce about the success of last year’s program, they reprise one of their favorite moments (“O Christmas Tree”). Miss Q then reveals her offering to be auctioned off for the PTA benefit this year: The Pixie Popcorn Palace, a large pink candy castle worthy of the cover of GOOD HOUSEKEEPING. This is eyed longingly by Cousin Ray, but Carol Ann reminds him (or her) about his blood sugar issues and exiles him back to the piano bench. Carol Ann then insists on seeing Kitty’s costumes. As they are revealed, Carol Ann is shocked to see that she will be wearing the Father Christmas costume. Kitty sheepishly explains that she mixed up the measurement sheets and made the costume intended for Carol Ann for herself. Carol Ann makes no secret of her displeasure and insists that they practice their specialty number one more time before the program, complete with hand bell accompaniment (“Ding-Dong Merrily on High”). The rehearsal goes splendidly and just as they are reveling in their success, the power goes out. In a panic, they quickly gather up everything they can find for the program and race out the door. A moment after they depart, the power comes back on, revealing that they have left the box of hand bells behind.
We then go to the stage of the local high school, where the vice-principal’s voice welcomes everyone to the show. The music begins and one by one the “Carols” emerge through the curtains and introduce themselves (“Five Carols for Christmas”). Carol Ann then introduces the program, leading into a narrated pantomime with elaborate costumes and exaggerated acting (“Good King Wenceslaus”). This is followed by a beautifully harmonic ballad (“Toyland”). Next is a presentation where Carol Ann becomes topical and addresses how to make things festive amid the threat of the Cold War (“Dress Up Your Shelter”). During this number, the ladies demonstrate how to use emergency survival items in a holiday fashion. Miss Q reflects with wry humor on her two divorces, leading to a tender and heartfelt melody (“The Glow of Christmas”). Ling-Ling then addresses the children in the audience, preparing them for the arrival of Santa in all of his various incarnations from around the world (“The Worldwide Santa Claus Parade”). It’s during this number that we see a disgruntled Carol Ann wearing a full beard and long robe as England’s Father Christmas while Kitty appears resplendent in Germany’s Christkindl gown of white and gold. Afterward, Carol Ann makes a point of condescendingly telling the audience that Kitty wore the costume that should have been hers. As she presses forward, Ling-Ling steps through the curtains and attempts to tell Carol Ann that there’s a problem with the next number, but Carol Ann brushes her off and shoves her back behind the curtains. After a lengthy build up, Carol Ann introduces the hand bell number but is horrified when she sees that the bells (which were left behind) have been replaced by various gadgets that Noyesy had purchased as Christmas gifts. They forge ahead and perform the song using items such as a spatula, washboard, duck call, and bicycle horn in place of the bells (“Ding-Dong Debacle”). While the others do their best to make it work, Carol Ann is the epitome of chagrin and humiliation. In an attempt to salvage the moment, Kitty reminds her that Miss Q’s special auction item is still waiting in the wings, but Carol Ann finally snaps when it’s discovered that Cousin Ray has eaten the Pixie Popcorn Palace. A distraught Carol Ann apologizes to the audience and prepares to leave when the other ladies surround her and shower her with words of comfort and counsel. Through their love and support, Carol Ann is reminded of the greater meaning of Christmas and learns lessons of compassion, forgiveness, and patience. With a renewed holiday spirit, they give their final gift to the audience: their rousing finale! (“Swingle Jingle Bells”).
Carol Ann Farrell – “Carol Ann”
Queryl Pomerantz – “Miss Q”
Karil Kitteridge – “Kitty”
Carroll Ling – “Ling-Ling”
Car’l Noyes – “The Noise” aka “Noyesy”
Cousin Ray/Rae Farrell – The pianist (Note: can be played by either a man or woman)
Setting: A December evening 1954; the home of Carol Ann Farrell and a neighborhood community center
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Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement. To download the show rider for Five Carols for Christmas, click here.
Materials: Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production. They can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for Five Carols for Christmas includes: