INSPECTING CAROL: Barley Sheaf’s Holiday Show is a Family Affair

by Patricia Bradford

by Doug Schultz

The Barley Sheaf Players would like to welcome you to start the holiday season with family, laughs, and a new twist on the classic story of A Christmas Carol with their 2015 holiday show, INSPECTING CAROL by Daniel Sullivan.

The story focuses on a small theater company in the Midwest who are preparing their annual production of A Christmas Carol. However, their production is turned upside down when they find out that they may be losing their grant money. When an untalented stranger comes to audition for the show, they surmise that he may be an inspector from the National Endowment for the Arts, and they cast him in the show in a desperate bid to regain their funding.

The stranger is – quite frankly – awful, but they take his suggestions very seriously in order to get back their grant. Things go downhill rapidly – which leads to many hilarious moments for the audience – especially when the real NEA inspector shows up to their final dress rehearsal! What will he think of their highly unusual interpretation of a beloved classic, and will they get back the money they desperately need? You’ll have to come see the show to find out!

Director Stevie Tagye is a longtime member of Barley Sheaf, and she had been involved in the annual holiday show for at least 8 or 9 years of her tenure. She absolutely relishes taking part in the beloved tradition because it tends to bring out many families to participate in the show together. For example, the cast features the father and son duo of Jim and Joe Breslin, and Joe’s mother (Jim’s wife) is creating the costumes for the show. The cast also includes real-life married couples Fran and Kevin Kane and Tim Long and Ron Quirk.

Although Tagye admits that working on a Christmas show in the fall feels a bit odd (the show first auditioned in September), she loves that it brings out the spirit of the holiday in the cast and crew from the very beginning. While many of us may only experience the Christmas spirit for a few weeks in December, this cast gets to relish in it for three months.

Tagye gushes that working with her cast has been “absolutely hysterical; we’re having so much fun!” She also believes that audiences will enjoy that the show’s humor is geared more towards adults than many traditional holiday shows, which tend to be focused more on children. Although they have removed most of the “adult language” from the script. INSPECTING CAROL is still considered comparable to a PG-13 movie rating, so it’s best to leave the young ones at home, and come out to enjoy a night of raucous holiday humor.

Tagye also notes that anyone who has ever participated in community theater will especially be able to relate to the jokes in this show. If you enjoyed the 1996 Christopher Guest film, Waiting for Guffman, Inspecting Carol will certainly make you laugh. Never participated in theater before? Don’t worry – you’re guaranteed to guffaw as you watch the cast absolutely massacre the classic tale of A Christmas Carol in an effort to please “the inspector.”

INSPECTING CAROL runs from December 4th through the 13th. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8pm and Sunday matinees begin at 2pm. Tickets are available by calling the box office at 610-363-7075, or by visiting the Barley Sheaf Players’ website.

Following INSPECTING CAROL, the Barley Sheaf Players will proudly be presenting their 2016 benefit show, IN THE QUIET, an original play by Barley Sheaf member, Andrea Grinwis January 15th through the 23rd. Proceeds from this production will benefit the young family of Barley Sheaf member Scott Ryan, who is currently battling stage IV melanoma. For more information, please visit our website.

Photo by Rachel Givler
L to R: Greg Morton, Fran Kane, Ben Nurthen, Jim Breslin, Bev Smith, Keith Chamberlain, Kevin Kane, Pam Taylor, Randy Knox

Theater/Organization The Barley Sheaf Players
Theater/Organization Website:

Theater/Organization Address: 810 N. Whitford Road Lionville, Pennsylvania 19353 (Map It)
Theater/Organization Phone: (610) 363-7075

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