Tag Archives: Nativity play

Blacktip Island Players Stage Dueling Christmas Plays

Dueling Xmas

Blacktip Island Community Players cast members try on various costumes Thursday at the BICP’s holiday play dress rehearsals. The BICP will perform Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a Nativity play simultaneously to address a secular-vs.-religious divide among island residents. (photo courtesy of istolethetv).

Debate over the appropriate theme for Blacktip Island’s annual Christmas play has resulted in the Blacktip Island Community Players staging two different holiday plays simultaneously at the Caribbean island’s Heritage House, BICP representatives said Thursday.

“When we started planning things, there was a vocal contingent that wanted the play to focus on Jesus’ birth,” BICP director Doris Blenny said. “Others wanted a more lighthearted performance. We tried to incorporate both viewpoints, but that was a hot mess. The solution was to stage two plays.

“We’ll have a traditional Nativity play in a scale-model, turn-of-the-millennium Judean manger on the lawn, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer inside,” Blenny said. “We’re staging them simultaneously so people can choose which to watch.”

Some community leaders opposed the two-play solution.

“Jesus is the reason for the season. If we don’t keep that in focus, who will?” said the Rev. Pierre Grunt. “Religion is the heart of this community. Or should be. The Santa-and-reindeer play is misguided, and we’re encouraging folks to boycott it. And they don’t, well, they’ll have to walk past our manger scene to get inside.”

Others supported the dueling plays.

“We kicked around a bunch of inclusive options, but this was the only practical one,” said the former Rev. Jerrod Ephesians, chair of the Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council. “The runner up was a Baby Jesus vs. Santa cage match, and we axed that pretty quick. Our bottom line is whatever gets people out and involved is, by definition, good for the community. And people really enjoyed last year’s ‘Grinch’ production.”

Actors say the two-play option has stretched the island’s thespian community thin.

“Staging two plays simultaneously showcases new talent, but it has us reaching deep into the pool of performers,” BICP member Elena Havens said. “Actors chose which play to participate in based on their beliefs, or lack thereof, though we did ask the tone-deaf actors to opt for the non-musical Nativity play.

“The downside is we had to reduce the number of parts in both performances,” Havens said. “There’ll only be one shepherd in the manger, and it’s impossible to find a Wise Man on this island, so we axed that role entirely.”

Casts of the two plays include:


  • Payne Hanover as Rudolph
  • Cori Anders as Clarice
  • Finn Kiick as Hermey the Elf
  • Elena Havens as Santa
  • Jessie Catahoula as Yukon Jack
  • James Conlee as The Abominable Snow Monster of the North


  • Kay Valve as Baby Jesus
  • Lee Helm as Mary
  • Marina DeLow as Joseph
  • Alison Diesel as The Shepherd
  • Dermott Bottoms as The Camel

Some cast members see the two-play solution as a growth opportunity.

“It really gives us a chance to stretch our abilities as actors,” Marina DeLow said. “So far the only real gaffe was during dress rehearsals the arrival of the shepherd outside was interrupted by Payne Hanover inside yelling, ‘She thinks I’m cuuuuuute!’ over and over.”

Many residents see the two plays as a holiday blessing.

“We get two plays instead of one,” Chrissy Graysby said. “We’re taking the kiddos to Rudolph Saturday, then the Nativity Sunday. Then we’ll celebrate Kwanza right after Christmas.”

The plays will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through December 22.

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Blacktip Island Nativity Play Violence Injures Twenty

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A cell phone image of the moment Blacktip Island’s Nativity play violence spilled into the audience at the Our Lady of Blacktip church Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of Barb Schaft)



Blacktip Island’s reef-themed Nativity play at Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral was cut short Thursday evening when an altercation broke out among the play’s participants.

“Lee Helm’s been carrying a flame for Alison Diesel for years,” play director Doris Blenny said. “He was none too happy when we picked her to play Mary, and him to play Second Shepherd.

“Apparently, Lee downed all the Communion wine backstage pre-play,” Blenny said. “Then when Gage Hoase, as Joseph, put his arm around Alison, well, Lee let his emotions get the better of him.”

An onstage scuffle spilled into the audience, sending playgoers scurrying for exits.

“The Angelfish had just started singing ‘Paradise City,’ when a shepherd in a wetsuit jumped across the crib and grabbed Joseph’s throat,” spectator Wendy Beaufort said. “The wise men tried to help Joseph, but the other shepherds had their boy’s back. It’s crazy the damage a bamboo shepherd’s crook can do.

“The fight tumbled off the stage and into us,” Beaufort said. “I t was mayhem. Joseph bashed the shepherd with Baby Jesus right in front of me. People were stomping on each other to get to the doors. I crawled under pews and hopped out a window.”

Authorities say seven participants and 13 audience members were taken to the island medical clinic.

“Most of the injuries occurred in the stampede to exit the building,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “The most serious injuries were sustained by players onstage.

“We have six actors, including Mr. Helm, in custody on multiple charges,” Marquette said. “The most serious charge is assault with a sea fan palm tree. And battery with a mock infant.”

Event organizers say the incident is Blacktip Island’s worst theater-related violence since 2011’s ‘Cats’ debacle.

“We’re still trying to finding Baby Jesus, two of the Wise Men’s dogs and any of the shepherd’s land crabs,” Blenny said. “Antonio Fletcher just announced he’s having a holiday crab boil at his place, but I don’t think that’s related.”

Blacktip Island’s religious community condemned the violence.

“It’s heartbreaking to see this kind of behavior in a church, especially during the holidays,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, head of the Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council. “This was a Nativity play. No one was supposed to take it seriously.

“I mean, it’s Blacktip Island,” Ephesians said. “There’s never been a virgin on this little rock. And good luck finding one wise man here, much less three.”

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