‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)’ Allentown Public Theatre’s current production, is solid entertainment from the moment you sit until you leave at the end of the applause.

It is a special pleasure to see talented actors that can act, sing, and dance on the local stage.

I downloaded the review portion of the script for ‘ECSET(ATS)’ by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alverez.

An addendum at the top explains the story of mistletoe. It informs us that the word “mistletoe” comes from the Anglo-Saxon for dung (mistel) and twig (tan) because it grows on tree branches and “birds do do on branches.”

The tradition of kissing under mistletoe comes from the Vikings dipping it in ox blood to be used as protection from evil spirits.

I knew I was in for a different Christmas season experience.

Allentown Public Theater performs in different venues and this play was in the Antonio Salemme Foundation, located at 542 Hamilton Street, Suite 203, Allentown, PA, in a long and narrow room with the “stage” on the same level as the audience.

Michael Fegley enters and intones, in perfect Dickensian formality, “Marley was dead”, and the hi-jinx begin.

Joshua Neth next comes on stage, and in perfect middle-American complains he just cannot do another “A Christmas Carol.”

This is a sentiment I share; so, I, too, was ready for something different. I got it.

Matt Candio enters, and the three actors discuss what to do now. They come out into the audience to solicit our ideas, and then return to the their stage area.

They decide to tell us the story of “Gustav the green-nosed rein-goat,” played fetchingly by Neth. They have to change the character because Montgomery Ward holds all the rights to the reindeer Rudolph and his red nose.

The three actors change roles, dance, sing and give the audience a collection of fractured Christmas Stories. The stories are funny, creative, unexpected mash-ups of Christmas stories we all know.

The slowest was the opening story in the second act in which the script combines A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life with Fegley playing Scrooge/George, and Neth and Candio playing various supporting roles. When I say slowest, I mean in this show. It was still faster and more entertaining than 80% of the usual Christmas theatre fare.

The most spellbinding scene I have witnessed in many years followed this vignette. The three actors performed a collage of Christmas carols. The choreography was inventive, the arrangement was clever, and the performance was entrancing.

The set, designed by Joshua Neth, was a black flat masking the backstage area and flanked by two flats with Christmas scenes on each side, accented by two large toy boxes at the front. It was a effective and utilitarian backdrop that focused our attention on the play itself.

Daniel Sottile prepared the sound, and arranged and composed carols. His creative additions to the show alone would have made an enjoyable evening out. If that was the entire show, I would have considered my time spent listening to his music well invested. His unique selection of Christmas music played while we waited for the play to begin was a charming prelude.

This is the best ensemble performance I have seen in a long time. The quality of this performance by Candio, Fegley and Neth for this Christmas season is a rare experience for regional theatre lovers.

The Allentown Public Theatre will offer this show through December 23rd on various Thursdays through Sundays at the Antonio Salemme Foundation. Check their website for exact dates. Tickets are $20 online and $25 at the door.

Andrew Ferrous can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .