The Transylvania Times -

BLT's 'In The Workshop' Provides Peek At Santa's Modern Operations - Brevard, NC


December 7, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Left to right, actresses Jan Robbins, Carole Pickard and Abby McCall provide a peek into Santa's modern operations in "In The Workshop."

It's Christmas time at Santa's workshop in the North Pole. A slew of elves work countless hours, making toys, checking the proverbial "list" and fielding "inappropriate" wishes from some forward-thinking children. And those are just the elves in the workshop! Thousands of others work "in the field" helping at retail establishments and transforming the naughty kids into nice.

Santa has just returned from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and threats of unionization by his loyal workers, a persuasive Mrs. Claus who wants to move to a warmer climate and a visit from an Ivy-League-trained manufacturing expert suggesting changes to improve efficiency plague this year's on-time delivery of toys to the children of the world. Santa must balance these demands, while keeping the tradition of Christmas alive for the children.

Written by Brevard local Annette Hobbs and the late John Brooks, "In the Workshop" is a crowd pleaser for both young and old, and highlights up-and-coming talent, as well as veteran actresses.

Jan Robbins, who recently acted in BLT's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," portrays the quintessential spirit of Santa – a giving and caring person who wants to make everyone happy. His wife, the elves and the children of the world are pulling him in different directions, but he remains jolly and optimistic throughout. Robbins' characterization of Santa is so genuine, you may not even realize there's a woman in the red suit and beard.

Actress Carole Pickard, who also performed in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" as Queen Guenever, captures the flirtatious and adventuresome character of Mrs. Claus – Kitty Claus – who longs for sun on her face and time with Santa on a previously undiscovered island she has found to move their North Pole operations. Toeing traditional and modern depictions of Mrs. Claus takes skill, and Pickard delivers with innuendo that leaves adult audience members laughing out loud, while children find her coy attempts to gain Santa's attention "funny."

Turning the centuries-old operation of Santa and his elves upside down is no easy task, but Hardy Winchester IV, played by teen actress Abby McCall, confidently takes on the challenge and answers Santa's every doubt. McCall, no stranger to BLT's holiday performances, played Martha in "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus" last December. The high school freshman effortlessly delivers her lines, which are fraught with business terminology, such as "productivity," "efficiency," "enterprise" and "pilot operations," indicative of an Ivy-League-trained business scholar.

Seventh grader Ryder Pond also wows the audience with his portrayal of Winston, an elf who clearly has the ear of Santa Claus and regularly reports on goings on in the workshop. Pond's expressions and overall solid acting in this role as a leader among the elves make him a leading supporting actor and one to watch for future acting roles in community theater and beyond.

Similarly, Mason Ray nails his role as Hoff, a local leader of the Ice Workers International Union trying to gain traction among the elves in Santa's workshop. Also a seventh grader and likely inexperienced when it comes to employment issues and labor unions, Ray convinces theatergoers otherwise, as he rattles off a list of reasons the elves should organize, including subpar working conditions, low wages and non-existent health insurance. He, too, should be watched for future roles.

The remainder of the children cast in this play provide colorful entertainment that enhances the overall production. Madison Brown, Avery Snarey, Elizabeth Crane, Jackson Snyder, Kendall Snyder and Keirra Hurst keep the workshop in order and audience members laughing during the one-hour play with sitcom-like scenes.

Director Theresa Cox and assistant director Sherrie Nock Koone, along with their stage crew, succeeded in bringing to life this modern twist on Christmas tradition. Hobbs, the surviving playwright, should be proud to see the fruits of her 18-month project come alive on the stage on which she has acted and at the theater for which she has directed several other productions.

Performances of "In the Workshop" run Thursday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 10, at Brevard Little Theatre, 55 E. Jordan St. in downtown Brevard. Show times are 7:30 p.m., except Sunday's performance, which starts at 3 p.m. Ticket information can be found at


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