Dress Rehearsal

By Annette Wetherbee


Chaos reigns backstage as the church's drama director tries to get the dress rehearsal underway for the Christmas production. Everyone is late, and many of the players are reluctant.


Wise Man 1
Wise Man 2
Wise Man 3
“Choir” (1 person)

Musical suggestions

After scene one- O come, O come Emmanuel.
After scene two- The First Noel
After scene three- We three kings
After scene four- Isn’t he? or Joseph’s song.
For final scene- Go tell It on the Mountain.


(Scene:  It is the night before the Christmas production at the church.  The final dress rehearsal is supposed to be starting, but the cast and crew have yet to arrive.  The Director is torn between panic and quitting.  She is setting up the “backstage” of a drama area.  Staging needs- one large table for props and a clothes rake for costumes.)

Scene 1:

Director:  (Comes in with a handful of costumes/ props.  Quickly she hangs up whatever costume she has and lays the props on the table.  She is racing around, trying to set up for dress rehearsal, which is already behind schedule.  She is mumbling to herself about people being “irresponsible” and “uncommitted”. )  Why do I end up having to do everything myself?  (Checks watch)  Where is everyone?  They should be here by now! (Exits frantic.)

Angel:  (Entering from opposite direction.)  Hello?  Anyone here?  Sorry I’m late.  Hello?  Hmmm.  (looks at watch) Maybe I got the time wrong, but I’m sure rehearsal should be starting…  (looks around)  Well, someone has been here- and hard at work, too!  (Sees the angel costume.)  Here’s my costume.  I guess I should get ready.  I wonder if I can go without the wings?  Oh, yes, an angel allergic to feathers.

Director:   (Enters with more costumes/ props.   She is still mumbling to herself.)  Next year I am absolutely not doing the Christmas production…. And don’t even get me started about what they can do with the Easter program!   (Can’t see over handful, and runs into Angel.)

Angel:  Can I help you?

Director:  (Doesn’t hand over burden.)  Oh look, someone decided to show up!

Angel:  You mean I’m the first one here?

Director:  No, I was.  You’re the second.   (Sets things down on the table and begin arranging them.)

Angel:  I wonder where everyone else is?

Director:  I’ve been asking myself the same thing.

Angel:  I’m sure they’ll be here soon.    It’s a busy time of year, and people have a lot to do.

Director:  Including me.  I already have a houseful of guests, a half decorated tree, gifts still not wrapped, a few not even bought, and a Christmas play to pull together!

Angel:   Sounds overwhelming.

Director:  It wouldn’t be so bad if other people would take care of some of the work… or would be where they said they’d be, when they are supposed too!  It’s just so… so….

Angel: Frustrating?

Director:  Yeah… to the point where it feels like… like…

Angel:  Like you’re the only one who cares how it turns out?

Director:  Exactly.  I’m going nuts trying to get everything done—while others are oblivious what it takes to have a Merry Christmas!

Angel:  And that is?

Director:  Huh?

Angel:  What does it take to have a Merry Christmas?

Director:  Well, hmmm, uhhhh… (Stammering, then hands go up) At this point I don’t know and I don’t care- I just want it to be OVER!

Angel:  Is there any thing I can do?

Director:  Well… I need to adjust a few more things in the sanctuary…

Angel:  Then let’s go.

Director:  (Starting to exit) I hope everyone else decides to show up…

Angel:  I’m sure they will.  And if they didn’t, what is the worse thing that would happen?

Director:  Christmas would be canceled due to lack of participation?

Angel:  No.  Just rescheduled.   (Both exit)

Scene 2:

WM One:  I think it’s a good idea.

WM Two:  And I think it’s crazy!

WM One:  It would bring authenticity.

WM Two:  It would make a mess!

WM One:  It would make the scene come alive!

WM Two:  It would make a mess!

WM One:  I think it would be great.  Besides the sheep, I could get a donkey - and maybe even a camel!  (Turns to Three)  What do you think?

WM Three:  Don’t get me in to this!  I know when to keep my mouth shut!

WM Two:  Since when?

WM Three:  Since my last comment got me volunteered for this fiasco in the first place.

WM Two:  Oh.

WM One:  What did you say?

WM Three:  I was complaining about the small scale Christmas program that was being planned…. that there wasn’t enough involvement with the congregation.

WM Two:  Let me guess, Peg overheard you.

WM Three:  Yep.  Before I knew it, I was walking away with a script and a part.

(One and Two nod in understanding.   One sees the wise men’s costumes)

WM One:  Hey, here are our costumes.  I wonder if we should get dressed?

WM Two:  It is a dress rehearsal.

WM Three:  Here are our gifts.

WM One:  I want the gold!!!

WM Two:  I want the gold; you had the gold last year.    (To Three)  What do you say?

WM Three:  I told you, I’m not saying a thing!

WM Two:  Yeah, right.  Too bad this isn’t real thing.   I need some help to pay for Christmas.  I can feel the credit debt rise as we speak.

WM One:  Oh?

WM Two:  Cindy is out shopping.

WM One:  Ouch!  That hurts.  I can relate - it seems by the time I pay off Christmas my taxes are due!!! (To three)  Right?

WM Two:  You forget, he’s not saying anything.

WM Three: Well, not exactly.

WM Two:  He has an opinion!

WM One:  What do you mean?

WM Three:  Quite a few years ago, Sally was complaining about materialism taking the focus off of the true meaning of Christmas.  I was complaining about the cost.  So the next year we sat down with our kids and set limits on what we were going to spend.

WM Two:  Did it work?

WM Three:  Not without a struggle…

WM One:  I can’t see my kids agreeing to that…

WM Three:  It wasn’t an option.  And it challenged us to be more personal in our giving - there had to be more thought behind the gift.  We even extended the policy to extended family.

WM One:  Weren’t they offended?

WM Three:  Maybe - but we didn’t tell them what they should or shouldn’t do -just that where there used to be 4 or 5 gifts from us, there’d be one or two.  We even exchanged names and gave home made goodies.

WM Two:  I wish I were in your family… I’d be relieved.  It takes the burden off on “matching” gifts.

WM Three:  After a few years, Jenny, our youngest suggested we do something as a family to help bring the joy of Christ’s birth to others.

WM One:  What did you do?

WM Three:  First year we visited a nursing home on Christmas day.  Even made ornaments as gifts!  One year we worked on the Angel Tree.  Different things.

WM One:  What about this year?

WM Three:  We’re having a family from the homeless shelter join us for the day, treating them to a real family Christmas.

WM Two:  What about your budget?

WM Three:  We agreed to give the gifts we would usually give each other to them.  (Begins looking around)  Where is everyone else?

WM Two:  You know - I didn’t see anyone else when we came in.

WM One:  That’s not possible, they have to be here somewhere.

WM Two:  If not, they’re late!

WM One:  Later than us?  Peg‘s gonna have a fit!

WM Three:  Lets look in the Sanctuary.  Maybe they’re there.

WM Two:  (To One.)  And don’t even mention your idea about the farm animals! (All exit)

Scene 3:

Shepherd:  Could you believe that game!  The way it came down to the last few seconds.  It was awesome!

Innkeeper:  It also made us late.  And I could be wrong, but I don’t think Peg will accept overtime as a good reason to be late.

Shepherd:  But it was the ___________! (Insert popular sport team).

Innkeeper:  True.  (Pause.) Thanks for inviting me over.

Shepherd:  It was a nice break from the holiday frenzy.   (Looking around.)  Hello????  Anyone here?

Innkeeper:  Strange.  I thought for sure we would be the last ones here….

Shepherd:  Hey, it does say the last would be first….

Innkeeper:  We can’t be the only ones here.

Shepherd:  Wouldn’t be surprised if we were.

Innkeeper:  Why not?

Shepherd:  This time of year, everyone I know is running in eighteen different directions all at the same time.  Don’t think I’ve seen all my kids around the dinner table for over a week!

Innkeeper:  Me either.  For a holiday that’s supposed to be so family oriented, you’d think just the opposite would be true.

Shepherd:  (Walking over to the prop table, picks up shepherd’s staff.)  Hey, here is our stuff!  (Turns to Innkeeper to model with staff, but has it upside down.)  What do you think?

Innkeeper:  That I’m glad I’m not a sheep in your care!  (Turns staff around. Looks through hanging clothes.)  Looks as if I only have one costume.

Shepherd:  You were expecting more?

Innkeeper:  Yeah.  I’m playing a shepherd and the Innkeeper that offers Mary and Joseph his stable to stay in.

Shepherd:  I guess Peg couldn’t find enough people to con into being in this thing.

Innkeeper:  No one conned.  I volunteered.

Shepherd:  Are you nuts?  No offense or anything, but it’s only a Christmas program, and I know you’re extremely busy with your business right now.

Innkeeper:  I know.  But I wanted too.  Especially as the Innkeeper.

Shepherd:  Why?

Innkeeper:  This is the first year I’ve had where I made room in my heart for Jesus.

Shepherd:  What are you talking about?  For as long as I’ve been coming, you’ve been an active member in this church.  You’ve even taught Bible classes for years.

Innkeeper:  I sure can put up a good act, eh?  I know what it takes to look like a servant of God, but when push came to shove, it was me in charge of my life - not God.  And with all my works, I was feeling rather self-righteous, but I was only fooling myself.

Shepherd:  What changed?

Innkeeper:  My heart.  Handed it over to the real Christ.  Not the one I invented to make myself look religious.  (Pause.)  My family saw through the hypocrisy - I blame myself for the chaos it brought…

Shepherd:  You mean Nick?

Innkeeper:  Partly.  My son rebelled against the lie I was living… but it also took its toll on my marriage… I didn’t think Jan was going to stay even after I did change.

Shepherd:  I had no idea.

Innkeeper:  Things are better now, but only since I got of my high horse and down on my knees.  (Thoughtful)  Nick may even come to the Christmas program.  I’m hoping to share the gospel message in a way I never did before.

Shepherd:  I never thought of it as sharing the gospel, just dressing up in a hot costume under hotter lights with a bunch of fake sheep.

Innkeeper:  To me our message is clear.  Christ’s birth is real.  And whether or not you make room for him in your heart makes all the difference in the world.  And as a shepherd, you were the first to hear the glorious news, then went out and told others what you saw.

Shepherd:  Guess this is more important than I thought.  Maybe we should go and try to find the others.  We can’t be the only ones here!

(Both exit)

Scene 4:

Mary:  (Enters.)  Would you hurry up!  We’re late enough as it is!

Joseph:  (offstage) Relax!  It’s not as if they can start without us!

Mary:  You know how I hate being the last (center stage, begins looking around at empty room) ones...here…

Joseph:  (Enter, carrying a large box) I’m here, I’m here… I had to get something out of the truck.  (Set’s box down.)  Where is everyone?

Mary:  I don’t know.  They must be around here somewhere… (Notices box)  What’s that?

Joseph:  What’s what?

Mary:  That!

Joseph:  Oh, This.  A surprise.

Mary:  For me?

Joseph:  It’s kind of an early Christmas gift… but we have a rehearsal to attend… so maybe I should put it back in the truck.

Mary:  Freeze mister!  If it’s a present for me, it’s not going anywhere.  (Opens box - finds a hand made cradle) Oh, honey….

Joseph:  I know it’s not a manger, but I thought we could use it tonight.  I made it myself.

Mary:  When?

Joseph:  I started it a while ago…. Before…well, you know.    I was going to have it in the nursery when you came home from the hospital…

Mary:  It’s beautiful.  (Begins to cry)

Joseph:  Oh, don’t do that…

Mary:  She would have been 18 month old.

Joseph:  I know.

Mary:  She never got to come home.  To sleep in her cradle…

Joseph:  It wasn’t finished.  Didn’t have a reason to, until now.

Mary:  I delivered so early.  (Pause)  I was so angry afterwards.  At you, at myself… at God…

Joseph:  I was afraid.

Mary:  Afraid?

Joseph:  Of losing you.  You pulled so far away - I didn’t think you’d come back.

Mary:  But I did.

Joseph:  Thank God.

Mary:  Yes, thank God.  You know, (Pats tummy) this means we’re going to have to give everyone the good news, don’t you?

Joseph:  First we have to find someone!  Let’s go look….

Scene 5:

(Enter Director with everyone but Angel in tow.)

Director:  We are not going to bring live animals into the Sanctuary.

WM One:  It would be great:

All:  It would make a mess!

Director:  I can’t believe we are so behind.  We have got to hustle people.  Get into your costumes and we’ll get started.

(Cast starts getting ready, but is goofing around with props, each other, etc…)

Innkeeper:  (While getting on his robe) What about the choir?  Aren’t they supposed to be here, too?

Director:  The choir.  I forgot about the choir.  They were supposed to be here over an hour ago.  Where is the Choir?

WM Two:  The choir is missing?

Mary:  They’re not missing.  I hear someone say they were going to warm up for rehearsal by going Christmas caroling at the hospital before rehearsal.

Director:  Caroling??? NOW????

Joseph:  It is Christmas.  When else would you go Christmas caroling?

Director:  Any time but now!  (Throws hands up and sits down on the floor)  I give up.  What’s the point???

Angel:  (Enters in full costume, with a small stool or stand.  Puts stand down, climbs up and says in a bold and joyful voice.)  “Fear not! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.  For today in the town of Behlehem in the city of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord!”  (Steps down)  You know, that message is as much for today, as it was so long ago.  Jesus was born.  He lived, he died, he rose again….

WM Three:  In Him there is new life

Mary:  And healing.

Innkeeper:  And forgiveness… If you only make room.

Angel:  That’s the point.

Choir: (In the distance.)  Is anyone looking for a choir???? Sorry we’re late…

Director:  It’s okay.  Let’s just do it!  Places everyone!

(The cast has finished getting dressed, and in a flurry of activity, the stage is cleared and becomes the “sanctuary”.  The cast gets into position - as if doing a live nativity, and the choir lines up behind and sings final number.)

Copyright Annette Wetherbee, all rights reserved.
This script may be used free of charge, provided no charge is made for admission to the performance. In return, the author would like to be told of any performance. She may be contacted at:  annettebee2001@ yahoo.com