When I think of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, experiencing ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with my family is a must! The beautiful story of the Baxter family and their Christmas miracle makes my heart smile, but seeing the show through my children’s eyes is the icing on the cake.
Year after year, my son and daughter anxiously await the arrival of who they tout as their favorite characters – the mice! I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the Christmas season than a behind-the-scenes look of the mice from “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
The six woodland friends are led by none other than “Betty” and “Lou.” The two larger-than-life mice have one purpose in life—to capture the most delicious Christmas cookies in the coolest way possible. “Betty,” is played by a gregarious performer named Kayla. The jovial “Lou” is played by Tony.
Kayla and Tony perform in other shows throughout the year at Dollywood and have become close friends. “We’re the real-life ‘Betty and Lou’,” Kayla shared. “We really enjoy playing off of each other to create comical interactions for the audience.” You might also recognize Kayla and Tony from their performances as members of the Gemtones throughout the park.
Take a look at a sneak peek as the mice learn how to be cool like Santa:
“The story really hits home and can be emotional for empty-nesters in the audience,” explained Kayla. “Our role is to bring comic relief,” she said. Tony continued, “There’s something for everyone in this show. We definitely appeal to the kids.” Tony shared how he and Kayla love the flexibility to ad-lib. Their rapid-fire style of comedy makes the roles a perfect fit for both.
WHAT IS THE MOST UNIQUE REACTION YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM THE AUDIENCE?
Tony laughed and said, “Well, just yesterday, I ran down at the beginning of the show and turned to discover a man with his head thrown back completely asleep. The chair next to him was empty, so I plopped down beside him and asked, rather loudly, what he thought about the show!” Kayla laughed and continued, “Kids always want to know about the cookies we hold at the end of the performance. They want to hold them and see if they’re real.” She winked waving a giant-sized cookie in her hand, “I point out that they are foam – so it’s not a good idea to taste them.”
HOW DO YOU THINK “‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS” UNIQUELY CAPTURES THE SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAYS?
“We all love to sing traditional Christmas carols,” shared Kayla. “The audience will join in with songs they know and love,” she continued. Tony added, “We’re the only show that has Santa, and I believe that makes us very special.” He smiled warmly, “We sort of know he’s Santa throughout the story, but his identity is not revealed until the end.”
WE KNOW THE MICE LOVE SNICKERDOODLES, BUT WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS COOKIE?
Kayla responded without hesitation, “Chocolate Chip!” Tony laughed and admitted he’d never been asked that question before, “I like Doritos – does that count?”
WHAT IS SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT THE SET THAT THE AUDIENCE MAY NOT KNOW?
Kayla took me onstage for a closer look. She opened the secret door wildly, “This is where I climb up and suspend from the top so I can peek out above the chimney.”
The stage manager, Kyle, was super and gave my family and me a tour of the set and backstage.
It was a night we’ll never forget. As I reflect on the experience and the heart of this show, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Baxter family quotes:
“The wish you make with your heart, is the most powerful wish of all.”