© Copyright 1982 by Hugh Wreisner


As the guests arrive the apartment looks pretty much as it always looks on this night. But there is one little difference, which few will notice until after the show: some attempt seems to have been made to give the roji (foyer) a "garden-like" appearance. The creche is on the floor directly beneath the spotlight in a miniature garden; the Holy Family clustered near a tall, iron Japanese lantern in which a candle is burning.

At show time, Hugo greets the audience and assures them that, unlike last year, this show is very short and very Christmassy." But it is also very wordy, so please pay careful attention to all the words, written and spoken. And may we please begin in complete silence. " The audience graciously grants this request, the houselights go out, and we see the first slide.

  l. ((no music))

  To Mary Seibel

    Who said:
  'There's a Christmas show in this somewhere.'"
  3. ((Gentle, rather mysterious music begins softly and we see:))

"The Lord God- planted a garden And placed in the garden The man he had formed And in the middle of the garden Was the Tree of Life."

  ((The delicate music leads into a solo piano which accompanies a clear, gentle baritone singing the Kurt Weill/ Maxwell Anderson" Lost in the Stars". As he sings, we see the World , hanging in space; first in extreme closeup and then slowly, gradually floating away from us, getting smaller and smaller until, at the end of the song, it vanishes into deep space. Lost in the stars.
SINGER (Jerry Lanning)

Before Lord God

Made the sea and the land

He held all the stars in the palm of his hand

And they ran through his fingers

Like grains of sand


And one little star fell alone.

Then the Lord God hunted.

Through the wide night air

For the little dark star on the wind down there

And he stated and promised:

He'd take special care

So it wouldn't get lost again.

SLIDES show earth receding through the stars into deep space.

Now a man don't mind if the stars grow dim

And the clouds blow over and darken him

As long as the Lord God's watchin' over them

Keepin' track how it all goes on

But I've been walking

Through the night and the day

Til my eyes get weary and my head's turnin' gray

And sometimes it seems

Maybe God's gone away

Forgetting the promise that we heard him say

And we're lost out here in the stars

Little stars..... big stars . . . .

Blowin' through the night

Out here in the stars. ((Two or three other voices join the Singer here. On the word "stars" the earth, now a tiny ball, completely disappears and we see nothing but stars, blue-white in the darkness.
  The piano finishes the music in a slow arpeggio which brings the song toa very definite and "final-sounding" halt. And we're lost Immediately, the blue-white stars turn gold!Very softly, a full orchestra beginsthe "bridge" playingfrom Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me".
  As it gets louder, we see the "HW" logo, looking like a tiny golden ball in the stars, at exactly the spot where the earth vanished. It rushes toward us comfortingly as the music reaches a sort of little fanfare.
  Then we see the regular version of the logo. The orchestra, at full volume, swings into the main strain of the song. Although the words are not sung, it is presumed that many in this audience will know them and will be singing along silently:
  "There's a somebody I'm longing to see.I hope that He/ Turns out to be/ Someone to watch over me... etc. " While the songis played we see the MAIN TITLES
  I. "Hugo Wreisner Presents"
  2. "Someone to Watch Over Me"
  3. "A parable for Christmas "
  4. "Music by
     Kurt Weill
           George Gershwin
                 Arthur Schwartz "
  5. "John Barry
     John Williams
           Marvin Hamlisch"
  ((NOTE: Sir Arthur Bliss should have been on this slide since he provided the music for the deserted-garden sequence. However I found the music too late to make the slide.))
  6. "And ....
              piano soloist: Vladimir Ashkenazy"
     Mary Seibel
           Benjamin Russell
                 Dorothy Wreisner
                       Alfred Klinger "
Able Camera
           Art Directions
                 Chicago Park District"
  ((The last slide comes on the last note ofthe music and suddenly we see a new slide: LAKE MICHIGAN JUST BEFORE DAWN ONA RATHER CLOUDY DAY.
  New music too, a slow, sad version of "By Myself" (Dietz & Schwartz). Again, it is not sung but many in the audience will know that the words for this strain are: " I'll go my way by myself. Here's where the comedy ends. I'll have to deny myself Love and Laughter and Friends. I'll face the unknown!"
  As this music plays, we see the sun rise, struggling to shine through the clouds.
MAN: The Kingdom of Heaven It eventually becomes a rather fogged, golden disk making a golden path across the water. Through all this we hear a voiceover.
Is like unto a man who lived on the edge of the sea.  
Or rather, a little bit back from the edge  
And 23 floors above it Shot of Hugo's building, seen from the beach
In a tower.  
Nearby the tower lay a great city Rather spectacular shot of the Chicago skyline (day)
And the sea
And the tower
And the city
Were very beautiful
And he loved them
But the man was troubled and uneasy.

From all those glittering towers

Silhouette of a man staring at the sunrise from the beach. He is all in black and has a black umbrella raised over his head, although it does not seem to be raining.
Came the sounds of weeping
and screaming
and gunshots
For all its beauty
The world was a frightened, unhappy place
So he went off by himself

To a lonely island nearby

Shot of man & umbrella walking south on the beach toward Wooded Island.
To ponder all this in his puzzled heart.  
And there he found the perfect symbol of the whole thing. THE STONE JAPANESE LANTERN left over from the I893 World's Fair. It stands quite On this very spot, less than I00 years ago alone, its top broken off. The trees are bare; there is some snow on the ground. Sad music underlines the poignancy of the scene.
There had once been an exquisite little garden ..... built for the World's Fair.

Not a trace of it remained

Except this old stone lantern ...

Stained.... crumbling.... broken. ((Music becomes more impassioned and we see three slides of bare trees twisting in the wind in agony))
((On the verge of tears)) And this is where we live!, he thought...

People half lost!

Waiting for something to happen...

In the ruins of our lost Garden of Paradise.

  Another shot of the deserted lantern and the music becomes rushed and agitated.
And the more he thought about it

The madder he got!

Where in the world is GOD?!

Loving, caring God....

Who's supposed to be watching over us

And keeping track how it all goes on?

So the man made up his mind! The BIKE PATH, going down the beach toward the Loop. The camera is at ground-level, right on the yellow dividing stripe. So if this resonates with anyone in the audience as a sly reference to the Yellow  Brick Road... that's just fine!
He would go up on the very top of the tallest building in the world And challenge Him!!

Very long shot of the SEARS TOWER, from the bike path, framed by trees.
He'd tell God exactly what he thought!  
And he would demand an answer!! Closeup of SEARS TOWER, a sharp angle shooting straight up from its base. It looks very tall and imposing indeed. The music ends with a witty, sort of fearful twitter as if the Man is having second thoughts about taking on God.

At this point we begin one of the major sequences of the show. The music is Beethoven's Piano Concerto # IV in G major, the middle movement (" Andante con moto "), Sir George Solti conductirg the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy as piano soloist. And it is dynamite! In our use of it here, MAN is represented by the full orchestra, which makes very loud, angry, belligerent, challenging statements; and GOD is represented by the solo piano , which replies to the orchestra " molto cantabile... expressivo" completely unflappable, never losing its " cool". The piano is absolutely sure of itself in the face of all these threats and rantings from the or-chestra; and by sheer, gentle strength eventually brings the orchestra also to a state of peace and strength. The effect, in the show itself, is surprisingly witty and convincing. I had expected a good many hearty laughs in this section and got only a few muted ones. It is a sad fact that people don't feel comfortable with God.


  Another shot of the SEARS TOWER. There is a little pause as the MAN takes a deep breath and pulls himself together for this awesome undertaking!
MAN: God!! If you can hear me answer me! Are you really true or there or not? SEARS TOWER #1 ((His words match the music like a song lyric and thus are spoken with a certain artificiality, to emphasize the fact.))
GOD: (one soft chord on the piano)


A strange smoky image appears on the screen. Then the word " YES" at the bottom of the picture. Thus the audience grasps the convention that THE MAN is the orchestra and we will hear his words in audible English; whereas GOD is the solo piano and his words will have to have English sub-titles.
(The piano begins again with the first chord and continues normally, as Mr Ashkenazy recorded it. There are no tricks in the editing of the sound.)  
GOD: ((each typed line represents a separate slide))

Yes, I'm here.
Abstract slides with subtitles etc ....

And I can hear you here.

Hear! O Israel!

The Lord thy God


Yeah? Well, people arent so sure these days.
Where've you been?!
My God! The world's

Yes, I know.
And aren't you all ashamed of yourselves.
Still, my plan goes on...
Exactly as planned.
And all..((He is cut off))

Abstracts with subtitles ...

((No tower. Abstracts continue))
Will be ...

What kind of plan is
You're supposed to be watching over us!

GOD: (finally getting his whole sentence out)
All will be well!

Abstracts continue ....
Well, we don't understand the way you work!

I understand that.

Well then?

can't yet.

Well, but . . . .

trust me.

I ......

GOD: ((cutting him off))
You haven't the slightest idea what's waiting for you.The marvelous things I'm preparing for those who love me

MAN: ((ad lib muttering)).
Well I'm sure it will be wonderful but you take so long and inthe meantime w/.....

GOD: ((interrupting)).
Believe me.

MAN: ((ad lib muttering))
Well I do.. . I do believe you, but but you could give a HINT.You make it so HARD...

I love you.


I'll be
right here.


God's last slide is a kind of deep golden glow. Then the Sears Tower is superimposed on this and we begin to hear downtown traffic noises. The "Glow" vanishes and we see the Sears Tower, plain.
MAN: So the man left the Sears Tower and went home to his own tower . Believing.... grimly.

Then ... Just as he left the elevator and was getting out his keys..... The door of his apartment opened
DOOR of Hugo's apartment with the number, "23I2" plainly visible.

All by itself!! DOOR: slightly ajar

  DOOR: slowly swinging open to reveal the old Japanese lantern, all cleaned up with a new top on it, standing outside the providentially restored garden.

  GARDEN: First, the full shot of the refurbished lantern and then all of this exquisite garden, little by little.
  Among the sights we see is the Tree of Life, a fat, good-sized evergreen which would make a perfect Christmas tree.

  The music (as was the opening music) is from E. T. and in that film accompanied the scene in which Elliot first got to know E. T. It has a definite oriental flavor.. . full of harps and shimmering strings. This comes to a gentle conclusion as if to say: Well we could look at this all day, but you get the point. Then the Concerto returns.
GOD: (solo piano again) Do you like it? God's subtitles are superimposed on more shots of the garden.
MAN: (overjoyed) Oh! Yeah!!It's so... Japanese! Garden continues . . . . .
GOD: (smiling) Well , I never promised you a rose garden.  
  The Concerto continues and we see several emphasized closeups of the "Tree of Life". Then as the trills begin in the piano, autumn comes to the garden in all its glory, leaves changing color and falling and swirling etc. With the almost/last chords we see the stepping stone bridge with leaves on them now; then covered with snow. then: the Lantern in Winter.
MAN: (anxiously) Oh no! No don't! Don't take it away yet. I love it! Oh please, please please. . . don't. Winter and darkness come to the garden. The Tree of Life is much in evidence.
GOD: Ssssh! Let me love you.  
MAN: You'll be right here?  
GOD: I'll be right here. God's last words are superimposed on a slide of sunset in the garden, accompanied by the very last notes of Beethoven.'s exquisite music.
  Then, a sweet, soft little coda from the E. T. music during which we see the moon floating comfortingly in the clouds and stars over the garden.
  The last shot is of the Tree of Life, standing "ever green" in the moonlight. The moment it appears we hear, very softly, the little piano vamp from "Chorus Line". And superimposed on the Tree are the words:
  Hear! O Israel!
The Lord thy God

  The words disappear and the BRASS take up the little vamp!! getting louder and louder until it all breaks into song.

At this point the actual production varied a bit from what I am about to describe. But if I could do it again, I would do it this way.
CHORUS(and selected members of audience break into song!)  
  As the sound track breaks into the song, sung full out , certain talented, skillful members of the audience join in, in perfect synchronization.
Singular sensation
Every little step he takes!

Thrilling combination
Every move that he makes!

They were simply sent a letter requesting them to do this, with a couple of special effects described, and the lyrics provided. Thus " rehearsed by letter" they came in right on the beat in perfect tune, perfect pitch, perfect everything The effect is startlingly joyous!
One smile
And suddenly nobody else will do
You know
You'll never be lonely with
                        You know WHO!!!
As the little song is sung, the TREE OF LIFE on the screen gradually lights up with multi-colored Christmas tree lights and at the climax, the screen explodes with FIRE-WORKS!. . . the orchestra moving with it
ONE!!!!!!!!!! in an explosive, joyous version of "Deck the Halls"!
Moment in his presence.
And you can forget the rest.
For the guy is second best to none,

Give him your attention

Really have to mention?
He's the ONE!!!!!!!!
IMMEDIATELY we hear the exuberant "Flying Music" from E. T and electric lights flash on and off saying Merry Christmas!
  STARS come on the screen and the electric Merry Christmas is now flashing in the sky

  The REAL TREE starts to light up! At the climax of the E. T. Music the Earth, which disappeared at the start of the show, returns with this big electric Merry Christmas on it, the TOP LIGHT of the real tree goes on and the house lights slowly come up as the Ray Conniff Chorus sings. And most probably the audience will sing too.
Adeste fideles
Laeti triumphantes
Venite, venite in Bethlehem
Natum videte,
Regem angelorum
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus, Dominum

Oh come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and adore him
Born the King of angels
Oh come let us adore him
Oh come let us adore him
Oh come let us adore him
Christ the Lord.
  Party goes into full swing .....


I. Evelyn Waugh's description of the people in the Old Testament, which struck me as being perfectly applicable to us of the New Testament: "... men and women living in a fallen and unredeemed world, haunted by an-cestral memories of a lost Eden, taught by hints and portents, punished by frightful dooms, people half lost, waiting for something to happen."

2. Julian of Norwich, a I4th century English mystic : an original view of God's Providence. (BOOK OF REVELATIONS OF DIVINE LOVE, Chap. 32.)

How all things shall be well and Scripture fulfilled; and we must steadfastly hold us in the faith of Holy Church, as is Christ's will

    At one time our good Lord said: "All things shall be well" and at another he said: 'Thou shalt see thyself that all man-ner thing shall be well'. In these two sayings the soul received various manners of understanding. One was this! he wills we know that he taketh heed not only of noble things and great, but also of little and small, low and simple -- of both the one and the other. This is his meaning when he saith "all manner thing shall be well"; for he wills we know that the least thing shall not be forgotten. Another understanding was this: there are many evil deeds done in our sight, and such great harm taken that it seemeth to us impossible that things should ever come to a good end.  As we look upon these, we sorrow and mourn for them so that we cannot rest in the blissful beholding of God -- as we ought to do.   The cause is that in the use of our reason we are now so blind, so lowly and so simple that we cannot know the high marvellous wisdom, the power and the goodness of the blissful Trinity. This is his meaning when he saith, 'Thou shalt see thyself that all manner thing shall be well"; as if he said: "Accept It now faithfully and trustingly, and at the last end thou shalt see in truth and in fullness of joy".

So in the same five words beforesaid, "I may make all things well," I understand a mighty comfort in all the works of our Lord God that are to come. There is a deed which the blissful Trinity shall do in the last day (if I see it aright); but what that deed shall be, and how it shall be done, is unknown to all creatures which are beneath Christ, and shall be so until the time when it shall be clone. The goodness and the love of our Lord God will us to know that it shall be done. But his might and wisdom by the same love will to hide and conceal from us what it shall be, and how it shall be done. The reason why he willeth us to know it just so, is because he willeth us to be easier in our souls and peaceable in loving, leaving aside the beholding of all troubles that could hinder our having true joy in him.

This is the great deed ordained by our Lord from without-beginning, treasured and hid in his blessed breast, known only toe himslf, by which he shall make all things well. For just as the blessed Trinity made all things from naught, right so the same blessed Trinity shall make all well that is not well.

In this sight I marvelled greatly and beheld our faith. I mean this: our faith is grounded in God's word; and it be-longeth to our faith to believe that God's word shall stand in all points. One point of our faith is that many creatures shall be damned -- for instance the angels who fell from heaven because of their pride, and are now fiends; and man on earth that dieth out of the faith of Holy Church, that is to say, those who are heathens; and also man that hath received christening last liveth an unchristian life and so dieth out of charity -- all these shall be damned to hell without end, as Holy Church teacheth me to believe. In view of all this It seemed to me impossible that all manner of things should he well according as our Lord shewed in this time. But I had no other answer to the difficulty in this showing of our Lord's, except this: 'What is impossible to thee is not impossible to me; I shall save my word in all things -- I shall make all things well."

Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith as I had understood it before, and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time -- that "all manner thing shall be well". For this is the great deed that our Lord shall do, in which he shall save his word in all things -- he shall make well all that is not well. But what the deed shall be and how it shall be done there is no creature beneath Christ that knoweth it or shall know it until it is done -- such was the understanding that I had of our Lord's meaning in this time.


Dear __________________

I would like the show to have a choral finale, like Beethoven's 9th, and for the same reasons he wanted one. However, my system is much simpler than his. All you do is sit in the audience and watch the show. Then at the appropriate moment (described below) you lustily join in with the singers on the record.... in the dark, in your seat. The song is one chorus of "One" from the original cast record of Chorus Line: Side 2, the last cut (Finale).

The show comes to an end with the words, " Hear! O Israel! The Lord thy God is One." superimposed over alive evergreen in a garden . Then

We hear:
The little piano vamp from Chorus Line
    then... The Brass vamp from Chorus Line (getting louder)
   then, the chorus on the record and the live chorus burst into song!

Singular sensation
Every little step he takes!

ONE!                                                  The tree lights up during the song
Thrilling combination
Every move that he makes!

One smile and suddenly
      nobody else will do!
You know you'll never be lonely with
      You know WHO!

ONE!! ((Hold this in a long decrescendo, let it hang and fade out in the air))
Moment in His presence                 ((Let the record sing these two lines while you hold the One))
And you can forget the rest
For the Guy is second best to none
Give Him your attention
Really have to mention?
He's the One "!!!!

That's it. If you don't have time to memorize this or practice it a little with the record... or if for any reason at all you don't want to do it, I understand. I really think it would be great, though.