LWOM comedy seeks joy in troubled world
Original production presented free of charge to area audiences
For the past five years, Living Word Outreach Ministries has been hosting free Christmas performances designed to entertain audiences while also touching on very important spiritual messages in conjunction with the season. This year's installment in the staged theater productions follows a year without a presentation. "Me, Myself & Apt. 5C -- A Christmas Time Comedy" will debut Friday evening for the first of three scheduled performances in the Living Word Outreach Ministries sanctuary. Showtime will be 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday.
"2012 was the first year we started doing them consistently," said Josh Langner, writer and director of the show. "We skipped last year because my wife and I had just had our second baby. It was just nice to take a Christmas season off once."
The story centers around Susan (Mindy Nelson) who lives alone in her apartment with only her inner dialogue -- provided by a narrator (Linda Jordan) -- to keep her company. She never leaves and never lets anybody in ... well almost. When her sister attempts to coax her out of her apartment for Christmas, and a group of crazy outsiders intrude into her private world, everything starts coming down, literally.
"This has existed on my laptop in one way or another since 2013," Langner said. "It's a comedy which deals with a lot of different subject matter, inspired by things in my life. ... This is different. It's not about Christmas, it just happens to occur during Christmas time. She's suffered a personal tragedy and she won't leave her home. She doesn't go out and she doesn't let people in."
He continued, "There are various people who start finding ways into her home and disrupt her life and various patterns. As she lets these people in, she starts feeling pressure and begins to realize it's not healthy to live the way she does."
There are eight persons in the cast, including Langner himself, the only male in the cast. Additional cast members include Rev. Barb Dean, Krista Langner, Vicky Syndergaard, Shnicka Heal and Sara Jordan.
"We started working the first Sunday in October," the director said. "That was our first read through of the script."
When plans for the production were discussed, Langner was approached by Dan Lee, who operates a local construction firm. In the past, staging for the LWOM productions have been minimal. Lee offered something more.
"I'm a big picture person," Langner said, "sometimes the details escape me. He asked me, 'So how are we going to do this."
Lee donated his assistance as well as materials to construct an elaborate apartment on the sanctuary's stage for the production.
"We actually built apartment 5C," Langner said. "It was really cool to watch all these people coming together for this with all their talents."
Langner has written all of the church's staged shows since 2012 which have ranged from musicals to dramas to comedy -- all focusing on a Christmas-inspired message.
While attending a ministry college in Minneapolis, he explored his writing as part of the the curriculum in the theatre ministry.
"One of the projects was to write a play," Langner said. "It was something I really enjoyed. This thing that was in your head, you put it on a page and then it comes to life in front of you."
He continued, "The first one (2012), I wrote for school and they specifically wanted a Christmas musical ... The next one we did, in 2013, a friend of mine had an idea but didn't know how to write it. It was a very serious, heavy theme."
They followed that up with a half-improv, half-comedy show in 2014 and a traditional Christmas play with a Disney theme in 2015.
"I started writing a lot when I was young -- middle school and high school -- I found out then it was something I liked to do," Langner said.
The show will run approximately 1 1/2 hours with a 15 minute intermission. No freewill offering will be taken during the show.
"The pastors (Al and Barb Dean) didn't want us to do that," Langner said, "this is for the community."
LWOM is located at 905 10th Ave. SE in Spencer.
Reservations are being accepted and space pending, walk-in seating will be available. There is no charge for the production. Seats can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling or texting 712-240-3574.