GroundWorks Theatre reinvents humorous Christmas tale

Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 1:01am

Established in 2004, GroundWorks Theatre has earned a reputation for bringing Nashville premiere productions to the stage, including a number of original works. And company co-founder Robert A. O’Connell continues that trend tomorrow night with his original Christmas comedy The Road to Bethlehem.

“There are not a lot of original Christmas shows out there — especially comedies,” O’Connell said. “So I started thinking about what would happen if two simple shepherds were sitting around, minding their own business, when this bumbling angel comes down with the big news about this ‘savior baby person.’”

Naturally the two shepherds — Abi and Reuben — set out to witness the miracle for themselves, meeting a conscientious Roman Centurion, an overworked innkeeper and a certain little drummer boy along the way. O’Connell describes the play as “a gentle comedy,” adding that it takes on a more “reverent” tone in the final scene.

“It’s a comic look at the reaction of the Bethlehem locals to the birth of Jesus,” he said. “If it were a ‘Road’ picture, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope would be the shepherds.”

Bethlehem features Chris Basso and Lane Wright as Abi and Reuben, respectively, with Martha Manning as the Angel. The ensemble cast includes several familiar faces, such as David Chattam, Trish Crist, Pamela Hagens, Michael Roark, Weldon Stice and Greg Welsch.

“I actually had Lane in mind as I was writing Reuben,” said O’Connell, who is also directing the play. "Seeing it now is wonderful. It’s exactly what I had visualized. Skepticism and faith both come in for their fair share of teasing, but in the end, what wins out is the wonder of that first Christmas and what it can mean to each of us."

What: The Road to Bethlehem

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Dec. 16-20, 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 21

Where: The Darkhorse Theater, 4610 Charlotte Ave.

Cost: $15 for adults, $12 for students/seniors, $10 tickets on Tuesdays

Info: 262-5485 or

Filed under: Lifestyles