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Holiday 2023 stage shows announced for Theatre at the Center in Munster

Information provided by Theatre at the Center

MUNSTER, Ind. (November 8, 2023) – A fun and folksy salute to holiday memories joins a whimsical theatre tale for young audiences and an early New Year’s Eve concert tribute as the holiday season takes the stage at Theatre at the Center at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster.

Christmas From the Farm

From December 1–10, it’s newspaper columnist and author Philip Potempa joined by singer Laura Freeman presenting “Christmas From the Farm” with piano accompaniment by William Underwood for 11 performances.

Author and columnist Phil Potempa is hosting a 12-performance run of “Christmas From the Farm,” a fun and festive stage homage to the holidays, with stories, prizes, and a recipe showcase for audiences December 1-10 at Theatre at the Center in Munster. (Photo provided by Luke Miller)

It’s a relaxing and nostalgic two-hour (including 15-minute intermission) stage visit of memories and storytelling, with a recipe or two whipped up with the help of the audience.

For this all-new and original production, the Theatre at the Center stage is transformed into a folksy and inviting recreation of the Potempa Family farm — complete with kitchen, dining room and cozy living room decorated for the holidays.

A special show highlight is singer Laura Freeman, as seen in Gershwin’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It” performing all of the favorite holiday tunes accompanied by TATC Musical Director William Underwood on piano.

From an onstage gingerbread house building contest with contestants chosen from the audience to an old-fashioned Christmas carol sing-along and plenty of prize giveaways, this ticket is an early holiday gift for all ages.

Matinee and evening performances are available, with the option of adding a special-themed pre-show lunch hosted in the ballroom by Trama Catering prior to matinee shows.

Holiday stories and memories, such as this 1966 image of the four older siblings of author Phil Potempa, will be shared from stage during “Christmas From the Farm” December 1-10 at Theatre at the Center in Munster. (Image provided by Phil Potempa)

For the lunch show, doors open at 11:30 a.m., with the lunch meal served at noon, with dessert. All of the menu recipes served are from Phil Potempa’s fourth published cookbook “Back From the Farm” and include: Jim Nabors’ Split Pea Soup, followed by Phyllis Diller’s Honey Chicken Breast (boneless) with Duchess Mashed Potatoes and Normandy Veggie Blend and a sweet finale of Zuzu’s Gingersnaps and Peggy’s Pecan Crescents Christmas Cookies.

In addition to a cash bar, Holiday Drinks available will include Rum Punch, Sparkling Poinsettias (Cranberry and Champagne) and Spiked Egg Nog. It is $30 to add the pre-show festive lunch option for matinee performances. Call the dining and events office at 219-836-1930 to make a dining reservation.

Tickets to the show are $35 plus tax by calling the box office at 219-836-3255 or visiting

The Year Santa Went on a Diet

From December 4–16, morning performances will be presented by Theatre for Young Audiences of “The Year Santa Went on a Diet.”

In this tale, based on a childhood holiday essay written by newspaper columnist Phil Potempa in fourth grade, favorite Christmas icons come to life and Santa turns away from his typical nighttime snack of cookies and milk to drop some pounds so his gift-laden sleigh can get off the ground on Christmas Eve. Mrs. Claus, Frosty the Snowman, workshop helpers Emma Elf and Edward Elf, and reindeer Blitzen are all keeping Santa on track to lose weight and feel great.

“It’s a great personal honor to have this stage opportunity to see characters and a story imagined from my mind at age 9 come leap to life four decades later for a children’s theatrical production I have the joy of scripting, directing, and casting at Theatre at the Center,” Phil Potempa said.

Starring as Santa Claus is WJOB Radio Personality Dave Innes, with Mrs. Claus played by Whiting Pierogi Fest “Buscia” Carolyn Kruzynski, teamed with WJOB Radio Personality Robert Aguirre as Edward Elf opposite South Shore Arts’ Cara Schmitt as Emma Elf. Frosty the Snowman will be brought to life by the puppeteering and voice of Philip Potempa joined by Blitzen the Reindeer portrayed by WJOB Radio Personality Sonny Santana.

“The Year Santa Went on a Diet” is written and directed by Philip Potempa with weekday performances at 9:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. and special Saturday performances at 9:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. on December 16. Perfect for all ages, all tickets are $10 by calling the box office at 219-836-3255 or visiting

New Year’s Eve celebration

Ring in the New Year and welcome 2024 with Theatre at the Center’s always popular early New Year’s Eve celebration at 8 p.m. December 31. Tony Ocean, as Dean Martin, teams with Bill Serritella, providing the vocals and persona of Frank Sinatra, and Elliot Wimbush, as the late great Sammy Davis Jr. The trio will sing, banter, and throw in some comedy commemorating the stage camaraderie of the original Rat Pack members.

All concert tickets are $50 by calling the box office at 219-836-3255 or visit

For an additional $65, enjoy a five-course pre-show dinner, presented by Trama Catering. Call Trama Catering Dining and Events Office for reservation and meal payment: 219-836-1930, Ext. 2.

Appetizers include Swedish Meatballs, Lil Smokies and Stuffed Celery Ribs followed by the Soup Course of Deanno’s Pasta e Fagioli and a Salad Course of Grilled Caesar Salad before the Main Entrée of Steak with herb compound butter paired with Chicken Piccata served with Italian-style zucchini and roasted potatoes with rosemary. For dessert, it’s Frank’s Favorite Lemon Ricotta Torte Cake.

Launched in 1991, Theatre at the Center is a not for profit organization, sustained by grants including the Indiana Arts Commission and John W. Anderson Foundation, individual donations and major support from the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana.

Theatre at the Center is located at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster, Indiana.

The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal publishes news releases from state, county, and local officials who provide information that impacts local community life. The particular contributor of each post is indicated in the byline.