Theater preview: "Krampus: A Yuletide Tale"

Jim Fischer

A sort-of lost piece of Germanic folklore, Krampus is making a bit of a comeback this holiday season, in part courtesy Short North Theater, which will present the world premiere of Nils-Petter Ankarblom and Carrie Gilchrist's one-act musical "Krampus: A Yuletide Tale," opening Dec. 10. The cast and crew feature Short North Stage audience favorites.

The Krampus legend is of a demon-monster who serves as a counterpoint to St. Nicholas, dealing with all of the bad children the night of Dec. 5 each year.

"It's a fascinating tale, a good and evil story," Ankarblom said.

Ankarblom and Gilchrist's play concerns a pair of children who, in an effort to help support their poor, struggling mother, commit a crime of opportunity - and then lie to her about it. The combined misdeeds occur on Dec. 5, just in time for them to be visited and spirited away by Krampus.

"The legend doesn't talk about what happens [in Krampus' lair] or what the result is for society," Ankarblom said. "We also ask, 'Why did Krampus disappear for so long from legend?' and, 'Why were these kids the last ones to be taken?' The audience will have to come to find out."

Gilchrist described the tone as "fairy tale meets Tim Burton."

"It's scary but not frightening - a kitschy, offbeat play that's a holiday story, but a different sort of holiday story," she said.

The music, composed and performed on piano (with help from a violinist and cellist) by Ankarblom, "almost never stops," he said, "and helps to support that fairy tale atmosphere."

"Krampus" will be performed with the audience seated on the stage. In keeping with the season, audience members are encouraged to wear sweaters and coats, and blankets will be provided. Hot toddies, hot chocolate and other drinks to keep you warm will be available.

Each performance will be followed in Ethel's by the Short North Stage's traditional Songs of the Season sing-a-long, also featuring favorite SNS performers.

Garden Theater

Dec. 10-20

1187 N. High St., Short North