This holiday season we were presented with a unique take on “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” The classic Christmas poem by Clement C. Moore is the new audio drama by Sole Twin Audios called, not surprisingly, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” as the poem is more popularly known. Written by Morton Fine and David Friedkin and first performed in 1951, this audio play first appeared on the long-running radio drama series “Suspense.”
The story and its quality production…bring to the listener’s mind childhood joys, as well as fears, during the holiday season.
During the new recreation of the radio drama, the classic poem is split into two segments so it is interleaved and integrated into the main story. Like the Moore poem, there are references everywhere in the story to the culture of Christmas: musical interludes (usually Christmas carols such as “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” played on music boxes), Christmas trees, caroling, and holiday presents, as well as visiting family, friends, and favorite stores. At the same time, this all takes place in the world of “Suspense,” for a little girl’s parents are reported missing on the day and night before Christmas. The girl is kept completely in the dark about their whereabouts and safety, as those around her present an aura of forced Christmas cheer and good will.
Christmas activities are presented by the housekeeper, Miss Buff, to the little girl, Cathy: “We’ll take our walk first, we’ll see the shops, we’ll visit, go and see Johnny, your aunt and uncle; maybe if it snows hard enough, we can build a snowman!” Though it is an ideal list of frivolities to be undertaken on Christmas Eve, Sole Twin Audios adds a sense of foreboding with Cathy’s strong intuition that something untoward may have happened to her parents. The listener only gradually learns what is occurring through snatches of overheard conversation such as: “Poor child like that, and this happened to her today!” Will this story nonetheless end happily with Christmas cheer, just as the poem?
The performances are all very good and some excellent, especially Taylor Johnson as Cathy. Joe Stofko is similarly striking as the caring uncle. Katie Dehnart plays Miss Buff with aplomb. The listener also will enjoy the superb reading by Miss Buff/Kate Dehnart of “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” As the poem is read aloud, something special happens (a Christmas miracle?) in the main narrative of the child who has had such angst over her missing parents. This cleverly written story was directed by Rachel Pullium who told us: “Moore’s classic poem is the embodiment of the true meaning of Christmas: celebrating with loved ones and cultivating a giving spirit through the mythos of Santa Claus.”
The story and its quality production in stereo (a technology unavailable on radio in the early 1950s when this “Suspense” episode first aired) bring to the listener’s mind the childhood joys, as well as fears, during the holiday season. This is a superb new look at “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
Running Time: 31 minutes.
The audio play can be heard here.