“Not On This Night” cast members Charlie Staples, Ben McIntire, and Emily West. Courtesy photo

SKOWHEGAN – Gifts and food are all very well, but for peace on earth and good will toward all, turn to “Not On This Night” by Evelyn Jones, a play set during the darkest part of World War II.  Sponsored by Holland’s Variety Drug and spearheaded by the Friends of Skowhegan Opera House as a fundraiser for much-needed Opera House renovations, Wesserunsett Arts Council presents this one-hour play for two showings on Saturday, Dec. 4 during Skowhegan’s Holiday Stroll weekend!

Show times are at 1 and 4 p.m.  Tickets cost $12, but they are free for veterans with I.D. and for children 10 and under. They are available at Skowhegan’s town hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and at the Farmer’s Market. Tickets may also be purchased online at Eventbrite.com.

We are fortunate to have some phenomenal youth actors involved: Emily West of Waterville plays Jacqueline Brulet, Charlie Staples of Skowhegan plays Reinhold Shultz, and Ben McIntire of Winslow plays Eddie Miller. In December of 2020, because live audiences were not gathering in theaters across the nation, “Not On This Night” aired as a radio show on Wesserunsett Art Council’s local radio station, WXNZ-LP, 98.1FM. 

It is Dec. 24, 1944, in France’s Ardennes Forest, where soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge are gathering. A French farm girl, determined to celebrate the season despite the war, encounters two lost soldiers, one German, one American. Despite their fear and distrust, her courage and good spirits create room for them to put down their arms for a time, and even to laugh together.

Meant to warm the heart in a cold season, the play illustrates “the humanity of living life open to the possibility of goodness in everyone” (The Portland Phoenix). This year’s performances mark the 10th time director Peggi McCarthy and designer Cary Wendell have presented Jones’s play, starting in January 2002 at the Players’ Ring in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This play has won awards for both script and production. Published by Pioneer Press, it has won performances in New York City and Hollywood as well as the seacoast New Hampshire productions.