Gather ’Round the Digital Fire for Some Holiday Theater

Little Lake Theater replaces its usual holiday tradition with one that brings the audience into the show in a memorable way.


At Little Lake Theater, patrons have made the company’s annual holiday production a yuletide tradition. The longstanding company has welcomed three generations of theatergoers for its winter productions.

“We have a tradition going back at least 30 years of a holiday show at Little Lake,” says Jena Oberg, the theater’s artistic director. “It’s probably everyone’s favorite show, and it’s definitely our best attended.”

In one way or another, it’s a tradition that must be disrupted in 2020; like all theaters, Little Lake is not yet able to safely host in-person audiences. Given the importance of the holiday tradition, the company knew that even a strong virtual production couldn’t quite capture the feeling; something extra was needed.

The solution: Holiday stories, read by the company’s performers — and written by audience members themselves.

In “A Very Little Lake Holiday,” some of the theater’s longstanding actors have recorded recitations of true holiday stories submitted by the company’s fans. “The one thing we miss tremendously is having all of our friends and family around,” Oberg says. “All of our patrons, all of our actors.”

“A Very Little Lake Holiday” was designed to celebrate that sense of family. About 30 patrons submitted stories — “I was kind of blown away by our response,” Oberg says — from which 16 were selected.

The chosen tales were paired with an actor and a director for COVID-safe recording. Oberg says that while there are a few recurring themes — such as what she calls the “National Lampoon’s” stories featuring over-the-top holiday mishaps — an impressive breadth of tales emerged.

“We tried to make sure we could get as many different holidays and memories covered as possible.”

The tales will be paired in the virtual program with holiday wishes from members of the theater’s staff and board, as well as a look back at holiday productions past. “A Very Little Lake Holiday” caps off an understandably difficult year for the theater, though Oberg is happy to report that staff is able to see light at the end of the tunnel.

“This year has been a financial hit, but we’ve had lovely support from our patrons, and we’ve been incredibly fiscally responsible for the past few years. We’re able to comfortably open next year.”

“A Very Little Lake Holiday” will be available for streaming beginning Friday at 7 p.m., and will remain available online throughout December. The theater suggests a donation of $20 per household.

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