Muppet and Dolly Parton (aka Cheavens and Berrier)

Everyone has a favorite Christmas story they like to revisit this enchanted time of year. Whether it’s Rudolph, the Magi, Clarence the Angel or the Grinch, there is a tale that resonates with us, shimmering with nostalgia, redolent of peppermint, and warm as cocoa in a Santa mug. Leave it to actor, comedian, director and activist Jeb Berrier to dub them BHCs, or, Beloved Holiday Classics. His eyes twinkle merrily as he reveals his amusing take on the stories we all hold near and dear.

Berrier has returned for the holiday season from his new home in Portland, Oregon to team with fellow local acting giants Ashley Boling and Buff Hooper to bring to the Sheridan Opera House stage a fast-paced compendium of BHCs – “Every Christmas Story Ever Told: And Then Some,” Wednesday-Saturday, December 19-22 at 8 p.m. each night.

Much like “The Complete Works of Shakespeare,” which the thrilling three have performed in the past, “Every Christmas Story …” will be a hilarious whirlwind of rapid-fire dialogue, frenetic costume changes and breathless segues from one story to the next.

The always-fearless Berrier is just a week out from opening night (“Got ulcer meds?” he asks.) when we sit down at the Steaming Bean for a chat. He had just arrived in town less than 12 hours before and our conversation is interrupted with hugs, back-thumps and laughs with friends delighted to see him. The reunion will play out onstage with Hooper and Boling, with whom Berrier has worked on many projects, most recently their over-the-top graduation “speech” for Telluride High School’s Class of 2012 in June.
“We’ve been together many years,” Berrier says. “We know each other really well. We’re comfortable with each other on stage.”

With many performing artists or musicians who work together consistently, there evolves an intuitive level of communication between the players that translates into a seemingly effortless performance for the audience. These three actors do just that.

“Performing together is great because we know what each other is good at. We each have different strengths,” Berrier said.

“Every Christmas Story …” is a relatively new script (first published in 2003) but is becoming a holiday staple in theaters across the country. “It’s got legs,” Jeb said. “It’s becoming a BHC. It’s funny, it’s irreverent and hits the nostalgia button in a good way.”

As with anything these three gifted actors perform, expect laughs – big laughs. The Frosty dance, for instance, will be a “life-changing event” for the audience, Berrier promises.

Local theater stalwarts Sara Doerhman and Deb Gesmundo will be working their magic backstage, providing unseen support that makes everything happening onstage possible.

The show is suitable for all ages, though it is not truly geared for really little ones. Tickets are available at www.sheridanoperahouse.com, or by calling 970-728-6363, ext. 5.

photo: 2010 KOTO Lipsync, Clint Viebrock

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