Stage Door Theatre's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' comes with creative twists

A family production of ''Twas the Night Before Christmas' plays at Stage Door Theatre in Dunwoody through Dec. 18. (Courtesy of Stage Door)

 One of the oldest and most popular Christmas poems is “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” usually referred to as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” A family production based on the poem story is playing at Stage Door Theatre in Dunwoody through Dec. 18, and director Damien Lockhart joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom along with producing artistic director Justin Ball to talk about their new holiday show for all ages.

Interview highlights:

A Christmas play by Ken Ludwig with some creative twists from Stage Door:

“We’re setting it in Atlanta,” said Lockhart, “And it basically follows a young girl named Emily – she’s really spunky – and her best friend Amos as they go and try to save Christmas. They discover that Santa has skipped their house last Christmas, and there’s a lovely elf friend that comes in and asks their help so that she can help save Christmas, and Santa can hit all the houses in the neighborhood.” He added, “They are not too happy about [being skipped] at all. So they are very excited to go and save Christmas, and get on the list, and get those presents from Santa for sure. So there’s a lot of fun… music moments and some fun just family and audience interaction as well, to join us on the story, and to help the kids save the day.”

“Traditionally, I think the play is set in Vermont, so it’s in the northern area where it’s a little snowy,” Lockhart explained. “We do know now Atlanta can get snow, because of ‘Snowpocalypse,’ so that’s not an issue. But we adjusted it to where Atlanta is a little snowy town. We also included some steampunk aesthetic into it as well. I was really inspired by the movie on Netflix ‘Jingle Jingle;’ it premiered a few years ago. The time of the quarantine was going on, and that really revitalized my love for Christmas, and so I was very inspired by that, and wanted to implement some of those elements into this version… I think we came up with something that is otherworldly but still feels timeless, in a sense.”

“One of the things that I’m most pleased about Damian’s vision for this production, is he took some of Ken Ludwig’s lyrics and actually turned them into raps,” said Ball. “So there’s some really exciting moments where Emily, and Amos, who is the mouse character, are actually rapping to the audience, and it is wildly fun.”

A theater welcoming the whole community, on stage and in the seats:

“We have open auditions for every one of our shows this season. We’re really proud to invite as many Atlanta artists as possible to participate. We had a really wonderful turnout for “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Damien and I sat through hours of auditions, and then he whittled it down to a group of callbacks, and then we picked these five incredible artists who all have varied backgrounds and training, but it’s a really remarkable group of artists that Damien has put together,” Ball said.”

“One of the reasons that we picked this show in our season is… for a long time, we were a community theater, and we really geared towards an adult audience, and one of my goals when I came into this organization a year ago, is to pick programming that invites everybody in the Atlanta community to Stage Door,” Ball explained. “So it was really important that we start picking some shows in our season that were applicable for the whole family so that kids and grandparents can come together around the holidays to celebrate live theater… Everyone will be tickled when they come to see it. They will be immediately put in the holiday spirit.”

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” runs at Stage Door Theatre in Dunwoody through Dec. 18. Tickets and more information are available at