New play, Christmas at the Biltmore lifts your holiday spirits!

The Christmas holiday season brings a flurry of theatrical productions that remind us of the joy of sharing and caring with those we love and those who are less fortunate than ourselves. There are many shows that we tend to re-visit year after year, because they just seem to kick off our holiday spirit and raise the charity and gift giving bar another notch. There have been many times at this time of the year, that the Christmas spirit has eluded me until I have watched another performance of “A Christmas Carol”. The Contra Costa Christian Theatre and the Kinsella Theatre Group are presenting a new, inspirational and delightfully well written Christmas story in the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church through-out this weekend entitled, Christmas at the Biltmore. I believe Steve Kinsella actually wrote the play a couple of years ago but it has been evolving and growing and suddenly, all at one time, it is now being produced by three different theatres at the same time.

Christmas at the Biltmore is a heart-warming story that evolves around the people who come to the well known and historic Biltmore Hotel in upstate New England to spend the holiday in a very beautiful wooded resort area and to enjoy the annual locally-legendary Christmas caroling party, at the nearby lake. Adding to the excitement, along with the bonfires and ice-skating and a joyful Christmas party atmosphere, this year’s party is going to be broadcast over the local radio station so that families throughout the area can enjoy the festivities, even if they cannot get out to the Biltmore. While the story is about the caring people who work at the hotel as well as their guests, it is primarily about their hopes, their relationships, and their dreams. The story encompasses all the caring people who work at the hotel as well as their guests, and yet, more importantly, it focuses this Christmas on two couples, their daughters and one negative single guest who has neglected his own family in pursuit of personal wealth.

In a way, this story is like another “Christmas Carol”, in that there is a crotchety miser and a hardworking and financially handicapped family. Further, there is a distraught family, crippled by a devastating event in their lives that subsequently has caused them to loose sight of the meaning and warmth of Christmas spirit. And yes, there is even a mysterious angel who tries to set the world right.

The cast is a huge group of 35 actors ranging from neophyte to very near professional. The quality of the production is extremely high and the cast is highly motivated to deliver an outstanding production for you. While there are far too many actors who deserver kudos, I would like to specifically point out several key characters and the actors who played their roles exceptionally well. Helen Dixon plays Louise, the hotel manager. Tim Biglow plays the hotel’s bell captain, Joseph. Bill Dietz plays Hollis Vickery, the negative business man and entrepreneur, who professes to need no one or nothing other than his wealth. Dick Kellogg plays the mysterious handyman, Mike. Shawn Bonnington plays the quiet poet Walt and Debbie Neisinger plays Walt’s secret love, Nance. The real star of the show is a delightful 6th grader from Diablo View Middle School, Kristina Schoell, who plays the heart-mending Miss Julia. There are a lot of really talented and delightful actors in this cast who are members of 31 different churches in this area, and who make this a truly enjoyable evening, one that will truly put you in a joyful and upbeat mood at the start of your Christmas holiday.

The warmth and wealth of family relations are especially important at this time of the year. I strongly recommend that you get the season off to the right start by first calling (925) 939-3200 or by going to the CCCT website at to reserve your tickets for Christmas at the Biltmore at the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, located at 1801 Lacassie Avenue in Walnut Creek. The remaining show times are this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m., closing on December 15th. Tickets are a very reasonable $20, or $18 for Seniors, and youth under 18, only $15 each.