Playwright to attend holiday show at Coon Rapids High

On a mere whim, Karla Haij, theater director at Coon Rapids High School tossed out the idea to her drama students.

Get in touch with playwright Peter Bloedel and invite him to their holiday play, she said.

Tanner Liubakka (Bob Cratchit), Natalie Schmitz (Mrs. Cratchit), Marc Stevenson (The Scrooge), Kayli McIntyre (Narrator 1) and Lauren Beckman (Narrator 2) are part of Coon Rapids High School’s holiday show “A Seussified Christmas Carol.” Photo by Elyse Kaner

Tanner Liubakka (Bob Cratchit), Natalie Schmitz (Mrs. Cratchit), Marc Stevenson (The Scrooge), Kayli McIntyre (Narrator 1) and Lauren Beckman (Narrator 2) are part of Coon Rapids High School’s holiday show “A Seussified Christmas Carol.” Photo by Elyse Kaner

He is, after all, from Minnesota. Maybe he would like to come and see the play – his play- “A Seussified Christmas Carol,” the high school students are performing this holiday season.

She had tossed out random ideas before.

“You just don’t think anything is ever going to come of it,” she said.

But Haij, the 25-member cast and crew got a holiday surprise from Bloedel.

Lo and behold, Bloedel of Mankato answered the email invite. Yes, he is available and, yes, he would like to attend.

Bloedel even went a step further. He plans to introduce the matinee shows.

This will be the first time the professor at Bethany Lutheran College will see the show. He has neither directed nor seen it, according to Haij.

“So it’s more pressure, but more precious,” Haij said, all smiles.

Two performances for 800 students from Ramsey and Hamilton elementary school students are slated for Dec. 19 at the high school during the day. An evening show will be performed for the public Dec. 20.

Based on an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” the plot centers on Scrooge, Marley and the classic three ghost visitors – ghosts of the past, present and future – but the characters are Seussified.

The show features zany antics. A ghost posse on scooters, for instance, silly characters with such names as Bed-Headed Fred, Timmy Loo Hoo, Sven, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and Ghost of Present. Scrooge, in this production, is named The Scrooge.

And there’s the Binka bird goose, the Bob Cratchit family’s Christmas bird the size of a pigeon carved into miniscule serving sizes of one-inch cubes.

“The play is a frivolous take on the traditional holiday story using rhymed couplets similar to the manner of Dr. Seuss,” Haij said. (The show is not affiliated, endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Seuss Enterprises.)

The fast-paced show with plenty of puns is targeted for elementary students, but there is much for older children, adults “and those who in their hearts are young,” Haij said.

Coon Rapids High School presents “A Seussified Christmas Carol,” directed by Karla Haij, Dec. 20, 6:30 p.m. Adults, $5, children, students and seniors, $3. The high school is located at 2340 Northdale Blvd. Tickets available at door.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

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