Kylara Pankow (Della/Lauren) and James Lynch (Jim/Freddie) star in Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Twist of the Magi,” showing through Dec. 23 in Edmonds. (Photo by James Sipes)

Kylara Pankow (Della/Lauren) and James Lynch (Jim/Freddie) star in Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Twist of the Magi,” showing through Dec. 23 in Edmonds. (Photo by James Sipes)

Holiday hit ‘Twist of the Magi’ is back by popular demand

The parody of O. Henry’s 1905 story is presented by Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds.

EDMONDS — Phoenix Theatre found a surprise holiday hit last year in “Twist of the Magi.”

The farce, based on O. Henry’s short story “Gift of the Magi,” was by far the most popular offering at the Edmonds comedy theater. So the show is back on stage for a second year in a row.

“It was one of the most popular shows they’ve ever had there,” Director Shileah Corey said. “It was nearly sold out, if not completely sold out last year. Since audiences loved it so much, they decided to reprise it this year.”

“Gift of the Magi,” written in 1905, tells of a young couple, Della and Jim, who are short on money but desperately want to buy each other Christmas gifts. The story’s premise has been retold and parodied countless times.

Della secretly sells her most valuable possession, her hair, to buy a platinum chain for her husband’s watch, while Jim, also in secret, sells his most valuable possession, his watch, to buy jewelled combs for his wife’s hair. The irony is both of their gifts are now useless.

Debra Rich Gettleman, the theater’s former managing director, wrote this parody in 2014. It is set in a 1940s radio studio and is performed as an on-air broadcast.

Gettleman adds a host of broadcasting eccentrics to the classic story, including an Andrews Sisters-like trio called the Twisted Sisters, who sing Christmas carols and parody ’40s commercials.

“It’s such a classic Christmas tale, and it represents something much bigger than just Christmas,” Gettleman said. “It’s about undying love, it’s about appreciation and it’s about the irony of giving things up for someone you love. I love the message of the story. I’ve always loved it — since I was a little kid.

“But then I like to write a screwball farce, so I (asked myself), ‘OK, how am I going to mess this up?’ ”

The “Twist of the Magi” is a play within a play. Kylara Pankow and James Lynch portray classic characters Della and Jim on the radio show, but they’re also playing “real-life” couple Lauren and Freddie off the air.

“In ‘real life,’ there’s a man and a woman whose lives are mirroring what’s happening in the radio play,” Corey said. “It’s a cute story with a twist at the end that’s really, really fun.”

O. Henry’s stories are known for their plot-twist endings, and this farcical comedy also sports some twists and turns.

In true Phoenix fashion — it’s a comedy-only theater, after all — Gettleman’s Della, tortured by seller’s remorse after chopping off her hair, tries to recover her lost locks.

Whether you travel back in time to the 1900s or 1940s, both stories leave you with the happy realization that it’s the thought behind the gift that counts.

And, along with that heartfelt message, expect to laugh. As a playwright, Gettleman likes her audiences to leave happier than they were when they got there.

The funniest character of them all, according to Gettleman, is the sound technician, Betsey, played by Melanie Calderwood, who is the theater’s artistic director.

“The best part is we have the sound effects lady on stage the whole show, and she’s a bumbling mess of a character,” Gettleman said. “She’s always dropping things and playing the wrong sound effect. She is laugh-out-loud funny.”

If you go

What: Phoenix Theatre’s “Twist of the Magi”

When: Through Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, with Saturday matinees Dec. 15 and Dec. 22

Where: The Phoenix Theatre, 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds

Tickets: $25 adults; $20 seniors, students and military; $12 children

More: 206-533-2000 or www.tptedmonds.org

Talk to us

More in Life

Biscuit and Bean offers buttermilk and cheddar onion biscuits along with a handful of spreads including bacon jam (left), Mama’s Lil’ Pepper aioli (center) and apple butter. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fall essential: Make Biscuit & Bean’s apple butter at home

The Lake Stevens shop’s Ben Libay likes to slather the cinnamon-y spread on a cheddar onion biscuit.

Ryan Harms and his blue heeler, Luke, walk the rows at historic Amity Vineyard. Harms and Union Wine Co., purchased the property from Oregon iconoclast Myron Redford in 2014. Redford made his first wine — which he dubbed Pinot Noir Nouveau — in 1976. (Union Wine Co.)
Add these Northwest wines to your holiday dinner table

Buy a few bottles during “cyber week” and have them shipped to loved ones as a delicious seasonal greeting.

Toasted Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich with Green Bean Salad. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Twist on turkey sandwich is perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers

Prepare yourself a toasted Turkey Day cranberry sandwich and green bean salad for lunch on Nov. 27.

Shredded Beet-and-Apple Slaw from the new cookbook “Easy Everyday Mediterranean Diet Cookbook” blends sweet and savory. The book by Deanna Segrave-Daly and Serena Ball, both registered dietitians, offers budget-friendly, simple preparations. (Linda Xiao)
Vivid slaw tosses in beets and apples for a fresh, tangy crunch

Orange carrots and red beets are in season when there isn’t that much colorful fresh produce around.

Design elements of the M235i Gran Coupe include angled headlights, four-eyed halo daytime running lights, and BMW’s traditional kidney grille. (Manufacturer photo)
BMW’s compact 2 Series Gran Coupe is all new to the 2020 lineup

A turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, and 8-speed automatic transmission are standard on both versions.

"Bookstagramming," the hobby of taking pictures of books and posting them on Instagram, is one of many activities that combat boredom during the pandemic. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Have you adopted odd enteratinment habits because of COVID-19?

Unloading the dishwasher can be fun — but mostly because fun is hard to come by during a pandemic.

Earlier menopause, fewer pregnancies linked to early onset MS

A new Mayo Clinic study highlights the key role sex hormones may play for women with multiple sclerosis.

Nutritionist shares ABCs of good-for-you foods, from R to Z

Walnuts make the list because it’s the nut with the highest amount of plant-based omega-3 fats.

Improving communication when you communicate differently

Opposites attract — and then they spend the next 20 years trying to get their partner to be just like them.

Most Read