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Annual show gets audience in the mood for holidays

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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You don’t have to travel for miles to enjoy a holiday in the hills. Sutter Street Theatre brings their own brand of small town, old-fashioned holiday fun to historic Folsom with their sixth annual production of “Holiday in the Hills.” Not since dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh, have the holidays been so much fun. And playwrights, Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt have compiled hours of historical research, combining knowledge and a witty pen, to assure their audiences soon will be laughing all the way. The play, set in the 1800s, captures Folsom in its simpler, but wilder days. Each character is based on a person who either lived in, or traveled through Folsom during the period, as captured in the town’s actual historical archives. “We wanted to do something that would be a tradition for Folsom,” Mockenhaupt said. “And I’ve done a lot of research to find these interesting characters.” The story is set in Ab Fleckstein’s candy store, a store that was located where the theater now sits, according to Jimena. Narrated by 1800s Folsom Telegraph editor, Peter J. Hopper, whose character is played by Jimena, the musical includes song, dance, and slices of life in the colorful days. “I play the part of Emma Spencer — she was the town madam,” Mockenhaupt said. “But she was also a philanthropist. She helped everybody out in Folsom. She was quite learned — she owned several volumes by Shakespeare.” While the show may include colorful characters, it remains family friendly, with a cast that ranges in age from 9 to 80. Mockenhaupt said each year the cast repeats some of the audience’s favorite songs, while adding others. “There is a lot of audience participation, and the finale is the same each year because the audience just loves it,” she said. The team spent Thanksgiving week transforming the theater in to an old-fashioned, holiday festooned Folsom, in expectation of sold-out shows. “This has really become a regional tradition, and we have regulars traveling from as far away as Colusa and Livermore each year to see it. We even have a group from London who is looking for a unique theater experience, so they will be here as well,” Jimena said. “It’s just a fun show — and it’s certainly the most fun show we do all year for our performers.” Mockenhaupt said it’s a great spirit lifter. “The show is guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit,” she said. For more information, call (916) 353-1001. * * * KNOW & GO What: “Holiday in the Hills” musical When: Times vary, Friday through Sunday, Dec. 3-23. See website for details. Where: Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom Tickets: $23 general, $21 seniors and $18 students with ID, and $15 children 12 and under Information: (916) 353-1001, sutterstreettheatre.com