If you're looking for a novel way to celebrate the holiday season this year, look no farther than your local college campus."The Butterfingers Angel, Mary & Joseph, Herod the Nut & the Slaughter of 12 Hit Carols in a Pear Tree," a modern Nativity play, opens tonight at Colorado Mountain College in Spring Valley. The play offers an updated take on the Christmas story, featuring a feminist-leaning Mary, a jealous Joseph, a fast-talking sheep, an egotistical tree and an angel who desperately needs trumpet lessons. The result is a hybrid of Christmas pageant spoof and heartfelt holiday message, designed to bring comfort, joy and a few good belly laughs).The late William Gibson, best known for his Tony-winning play, "The Miracle Worker," first penned "Butterfingers Angel" in 1974 as a pageant script for his church. Dramatists Play Service picked up the unconventional piece, and theater directors across the nation began offering up a different kind of Christmas play.The plot follows the career of a fumbling angel sent to bring "good tidings of great joy" to the world. Obstacles range from a resistant Mary to a nefarious Herod, making the course toward human salvation a bumpy one. CMC adjunct instructor Brad Moore directs a cast featuring a host of CMC students, two theater program graduates and a few favorite community performers. "Everyone's high energy and fun," said Cora Wettlin, who plays Mary. Nick Garay's character, the Butterfingers Angel, is an insecure bumbler who's been given one chance to save his job - and deliver a savior to the world. If he doesn't succeed, he'll not only be fired but also banished from Heaven. "He's doing everything in his power to get this right," said Garay. But Mary is resistant, and Joseph suspects the angel of harboring a less-than-holy affection for his wife. Graeme Duke plays the hapless Joseph, who shifts from passionate pursuer, to jilted boyfriend, to jealous husband and beyond. "I have to work my way through all the emotional strides he makes," said Duke.Theater program graduate Cassidy Willey plays the vain and flamboyant Tree. "After all my years in the theater," she laughed, "I finally get to be the Tree." Chris Walsh portrays Herod and the Man in Gray, as well as the Courier. His roles complicate the plot and add notes of darkness to an otherwise lighthearted romp. Even so, Walsh is tackling his role as bad-guy Herod with a spirit of fun. "He's a whiny, diva king, and that's not really a stretch for me," said Walsh.The talking stable animals are played by Jaime Sklavos (the Sheep), Bella Barnum (the Donkey) and Shelby Lathrop (the Cow). "We're there for comic relief," said Sklavos. "This play is hilarious, but it has a moral in the end." Parental note: One scene contains violence that could be disturbing to very young children.
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