October 22, 2014
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Theatre Works to present world premiere of ‘Ant’ny Claus: A Dysfunctional Family Christmas’

Ant’ny Claus is a character created by Rhode Island comedian and comedy writer Frank O’Donnell.

“Ant’ny is the disgruntled younger brother of Santa Claus,” O’Donnell explains. “Being Santa is the family business, and because Santa is the older sibling he gets the good gigs. Ant’ny gets the leftovers. So Santa gets the castle in the North Pole. Ant’ny gets a raised ranch in North Providence.”

O’Donnell has entertained as Ant’ny at a variety of holiday functions across New England for the past 15 years.

“As the character grew, so did his back story,” says O’Donnell. “I always knew there was more to this guy. So I sat down and started to put it all on paper and ended up with a two-act play.”

O’Donnell approached his friends at Theatre Works to ask if they’d be interested in producing the play, and the board voted to make it the holiday show in the 2011/2012 season.

“I read the first act,” says Connie Anderson, TW’s vice-president, “and couldn’t stop laughing. This is going to be a lot of fun.”

The play focuses on another Christmas Eve at Ant’ny’s North Providence home. It’s been 10 years since his brother became Santa, and this year, like every year before, Ant’ny waits for the hotline to ring, signaling Code Red Suit. That means Santa can’t fulfill his Christmas duties and Ant’ny has to step in.

This year, unlike prior years, the hotline rings – off the hook – but none of them are Code Red Suit, increasing Ant’ny’s level of frustration. Add in his family – wife Carmella, son and daughter Sonny and Holly, and his mother-in-law Carmella Senior – and a variety of other characters, including a talking reindeer and an overgrown elf, and you’ve got a recipe for holiday hilarity.

This is O’Donnell’s first full-length theatrical production. He wrote, produced and directed “Blackbeard’s Booty,” an award-winning dinner theater show that appeared at a variety of local venues from 2005 through 2010, as well as “Halloween Homicides,” a murder mystery dinner show at the Stadium Theatre. In addition to being a stand-up comic, O’Donnell has appeared in a number of plays in the area, including “Jesus Christ: Superstar,” where he earned a Motif Theatre Award as Best Supporting Actor, and most recently as Mayor Shinn in “Music Man.”

O’Donnell will co-direct the show with Theatre Works’ veteran, Mark Anderson. More details can be found at www.twri.org. For more information contact O’Donnell at frankocomedy@cox.net or 447-7589.


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