Vail Christian’s Christmas production is Tuesday |

Vail Christian’s Christmas production is Tuesday

Students in Vail Christian High School's theater department wrote their own Christmas production, "Changed By The Story." Mack Callicrate, center, and Emily Novak did the choreography, and Rob Hixon wrote most of the script. The production is 7 p.m. Tuesday in Vail Christian High School's Grace Auditorium.
Randy Wyrick| |

If you go ...

What: “Changed by the Story,” Vail Christian High School Christmas production.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Where: Grace Auditorium, Vail Christian High School, 31621 U.S. Highway 6, Edwards.

Cost: $10 adults, $5 students.

More information: Buy tickets at the door or at The auditorium will be configured with arm chairs and coffee tables, instead of traditional auditorium seating.

Rob Hixon was driving along one day when his phone rang. He pushed a hands-free button and answered.

Melinda Carlson’s sweet-as-honey Southern lilt filled the car … most of the time you’d pay Carlson 10 bucks an hour just to listen to her talk.

The usual Christmas plays didn’t suit Vail Christian High School’s theater students, so they wrote their own.

Hixon wrote most of it, with lots of help from lots and lots of people … lots and lots and lots of people, including Carlson, who’s the faculty director.

“What are you doing?” Carlson asked Hixon.

“Driving,” he replied.

“Well, pull over. We need to work on this,” she said.

So he did, and they did. There he was with his laptop open on the side of the road, working on the play.

What’s it about?

The action takes place on a New York City subway train. Five groups of people are on their way to Rockefeller Center on Christmas Eve when their New York subway train breaks down: New York University students stiffed for their paychecks and unable to travel home, a family, the Rockettes, fashion designers and Christmas carolers.

They’re missing a big piece of their Christmas spirit, but, as they get to know one another in their stranded subway car, find it in each other.

That train, by the way, finally does start moving.

The Write stuff

Wander back in time a couple of months and Hixon stopped Carlson in the hallway one day to ask about the school’s Christmas production.

“I can’t sing, I’m not the best dancer. What can I do? Who’s writing the script?” Hixon asked.

Hixon wants to study screen writing in college, so Carlson smiled at him and said, “How about you?”

He’s happy he did it, but there were some moments.

“We haven’t done anything by the book yet. We’re writing the book as we go,” Hixon said.

They even wrote their own music. Mack Callicrate and Emily Novak choreographed the dance numbers.

The cast members divided themselves into groups and developed their own characters and backstories. As in all good literature, there are problems and solutions.

Then they gave it to Hixon, who wrote the script around all that.

“We rewrote it four or five times until we have the production we have now,” Hixon said.

Only four or five? He got off light, he says now.

“The kids were giving him all kinds of feedback,” Carlson said.

The writing process was filled with meetings — school-day meetings with students, late-night meetings with Carlson, there were even times when he was encouraged to pull over while he was driving because, “We had an idea and we need to work on this,” someone would say into Hixon’s cellphone.

All ideas are good … in the right context … but not every idea fits every project.

“Yeah, there are no explosions or fireworks,” Hixon said. “Apparently there’s some New York City law against fireworks on trains.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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