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press PHOTO BY KENNY EK Left to right: Joshua Neth, Matt Candio, Michael Fegley, press PHOTO BY KENNY EK Left to right: Joshua Neth, Matt Candio, Michael Fegley, "Every Christmas Story Every Told (And Then Some!)," Allentown Public Theatre

THEATER REVIEWS APT gets into 'Every Christmas' spirit

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Every Christmas play and movie tells a story.

Allentown Public Theatre (APT)'s production of "Every Christmas Story Every Told (And Then Some!)," through Dec. 23, the Salemme Foundation, Allentown, manages to tell nearly all of them.

The comedy with music, written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alverez, premiered in 2003 at Cape May Stage, Cape May, N.J.

Nary a BHC (Beloved Holiday Classic) is left unturned by the comedy trio of Matt Candio, Michael Fegley and Joshua Neth, who worked so well together in last year's APT production of "The Complete Works of Williams Shakespeare (Abridged)."

Here, Fegley plays the lead thespian dedicated to putting on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." What results, however, is a mash-up of assorted BHCs, with the second act of the one-hour and one-half show a clever collision of "Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

Each actor has the physicality and onstage risk-taking to make the cobbled BHC snippets delightfully funny.

Fegley conveys the impression of being the most flummoxed of the three with mad grimaces, faux-confused asides and put-upon body language.

Candio anchors the action with direct-to-audience narration, dynamic eye-contact and measured distinctive tones and voices.

Neth, who co-directs with Daniel Sottile, is mirthfully hilarious in various guises (many as gals), with a stomping presence, gleeful, sparkling eyes and mischievous grin.

By the way, if you want to be drafted for a scene, sit in the front row or two.

An inventive Christmas carol compilation by Sottile concludes the show.

"Every Christmas Story" is an inventive romp. The APT trio makes the laughs look easy, and gets into the spirit of the season, not always easy in these trying times.