Tonawanda News — Twenty-three years after “All Through The Night” first debuted on a North Tonawanda stage, the Christmas play by L. Don Swartz will return this week for its 14th incarnation, starting Thursday and running through Dec. 16 at the Ghostlight Theatre on Schenck Street.
Not bad for a show that originally started as a simple alternative to the trials of Ebenezer Scrooge.
“I thought it would be a nice alternative to ‘A Christmas Carol.’ At the time, there was no ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ available,” Swartz said. “We were out of ideas ... and the company said ‘Write one, why don’t you?’ I think they were tired of me complaining about it. We took the risk there and little by little, the audience grew.
“I think it has a no-nonsense, Western-New-York sensibility. It’s not sentimental or sappy. I think people can relate to it ... and I’m just grateful local audiences have embraced it.”
“All Through The Night,” which was first presented in 1989 at the Riviera Theatre, tells the story of a group of seven travelers trapped in a rural train station by a blizzard on Christmas Eve and the children who are rehearsing a Christmas pageant across the street in a church. Swartz, who went to college in Chicago and before that spent time in a boarding school, drew from his experiences for the idea.
“I spent a lot of time in train stations ... I met a lot of strangers, saw a lot of things,” he said. “I was always traveling at holiday time. I always wondered about their stories. You’re kind of thrown together with these strangers and everybody has a story to tell.”
That’s true for the play’s seven travelers — two senior sisters, a college student trying desperately to get home, a young woman haunted by a tragedy, a young couple on the run and a Jewish character, played by Swartz.