The Scene

WT Productions delivers ‘Seasonal Gifts’ to St. Charles stage

Wrap Man (Danny Glenn from left) teaches Roy the finer points of wrapping a present in "Seasonal Gifts" from WT Productions.

WT Productions’ holiday tradition continues into its sixth season with “Seasonal Gifts,” coming to Marquee theater weekends from Dec. 1 to 10 in St. Charles.

“Seasonal Gifts” is a collection of six short plays that looks at Christmas from different perspectives. It contains light comedy, dark comedy and drama, with the finale inventively combining characters and plot lines from the previous five plays with its signature flourish, a news release stated.

While these productions have been based in St. Charles each year, cast and audience members have come from all over the Chicago area.

“Seasonal Gifts” is written, produced and directed by Debbi Dennison (Streamwood) and Carl Zeitler (Glen Ellyn). The cast includes Gail Cannata (Aurora), Dennison, Danny Glenn (Schaumburg), Katelyn Lane (Chicago), Betsey Milord (Joliet), Paul Milord (Joliet), Stephen Pickering (Fox River Grove), Debbie Roberts (Lockport), Kate Roberts (Lockport), Eric Wang (Chicago) and Zeitler. The fan-favorite Santa puppets Troy and Roy always manage to appear at some point.

Mayhem breaks out among the cast of "Seasonal Gifts."

“These productions have been a wonderful experience; they’ve given us the opportunity to write a variety of offbeat, untraditional and quirky scripts about the winter holiday season,” Zeitler said. “That’s been there since the first year. The finale has really evolved over the years in terms of expertly incorporating the characters and plot points from the other plays that evening. The finales have grown to be what people talk about most. Audience members always look forward to seeing the next one.”

Dennison said she is overjoyed by the people that come back year after year, adding, “Our show is part of their holiday tradition, and that is probably what I am most proud of.”

Pickering is in his fourth “Seasonal” production.

“The first thing that I notice is how consistent these shows are,” Pickering said. “Every year, I’m impressed by how good the scripts are, how much thought they put into creating these characters. With each ‘Seasonal’ show, the audience knows they will see these very clever short plays. But there are always twists and surprises to give them a little more than they expected, which is just delightful. The biggest evolution, I think, is that the connective tissues between these plays get tighter each year. There are fun little Easter eggs for returning audience members that add to the overall experience. But they’re done very cleverly, so new audience members don’t feel that they’ve missed something.”

On lucky occasions in the theater world, a cast feels like a close-knit family. In the case of ‘Seasonal Gifts,’ it’s factual. Debbie and Kate Roberts are mother and daughter, and Betsey and Paul Milord are spring newlyweds. Betsey is appearing in her second ‘Seasonal’ production, while Paul is making his debut in it.

“Since we met doing theater, I appreciate any time we can be on stage together,” Betsey Milord said. “We have great chemistry, and I think it really comes to life through our characters.”

Paul added, “I’m very thankful for the opportunity for us to be together on stage.”

This season, WT Productions decided to add a special twist. They selected one play from each of the previous productions and crafted a brand new finale to bring those characters and storylines together.

“We thought it’d be fun to pull one play from each of the first five years, and then the sixth one would be a whole new ‘Seasonal’-style mash-up of these five plays,” Dennison said. “So, it’s an ‘all-star’ show with a new finale.”

“Wrap Man,” written and directed by Dennison and Zeitler, is about the holiday hero Wrap Man and what he has to contend with this Christmas. “Three for the Road,” written and directed by Zeitler, focuses on a man who struggles with a painful memory that happened just before Christmas 10 years ago when two unexpected guests arrive. “Branching Out,” written and directed by Dennison, looks at five Christmas-type trees on a tree farm who discuss getting chosen by humans for the holiday season and what happens on “the other side.”

“In Cahoots,” written and directed by Zeitler, is about people who go to extremes to win a holiday-themed event. “#HolidayHookUp,” written and directed by Dennison, deals with finding a holiday date on the hottest local cable TV show. “The Gift that Keeps on Giving,” written and directed by Dennison and Zeitler, features the mayhem that ensues at the “This Doesn’t Suck” awards show as the “Seasonal Gifts” universe collides in WT Productions’ signature style.

“It’s such a privilege to work with great cast members each year,” Zeitler said. “We typically have those who have done prior ‘Seasonal’ shows return, but we get just as many or more new people depending on the year. Having a growing high-quality ensemble makes these productions really shine.”

Dennison said doing the shows is a pure joy for her.

“I take pride in knowing that our show is all original, and there is nothing like it out there,” she said. “To have people look forward to our show year after year, whether as an actor or as an audience member, is the best gift I could ever receive.”

“Seasonal Gifts” is appropriate for PG-13 audiences, due to language and content.

The show runs December 1-3 and 8-10 at Marquee theater at 619 W. Main St. (Route 64) in St. Charles. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Free parking is available. Tickets cost $25 (all fees included), and are available at

Adding to the holiday spirit, WT Productions will give away a seasonal gift each performance. The varied prizes come from the donations of Marquee theater, Riverside Pizza & Pub of St. Charles, Pinot’s Palette of St. Charles, The Bit Theater of Aurora, North Avenue Pub & Grill of West Chicago, and WT Productions.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

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