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New Dawn Theater presents debut play for holidays

• What: “A Not So Silent Night”

• When: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23

• Where: New Dawn Theater, 3087 Main St., Duluth

• Cost: $12 to $15

• For more information: Visit newdawntheatercompany.com

DULUTH -- It's Christmastime. Presents, family, food.

Some say it's the most joyous time of year, but what if you have a loved one serving in the military overseas? Does the holiday have the same feeling?

That's what New Dawn Theater wanted to present -- a soldier's point of view during this time of year in its play, "A Not So Silent Night," which debuts today.

New Dawn's Sherry Ingbritsen wrote the story and is directing the show. It's her first script, but she wrote about what she knew: Her son serving in the military.

"They always say write about what you know, and a lot of the things in the story have actually happened, like the traditions that they talk about and their son being in the military," she said. "I think there is so much done from different aspects, but to my knowledge I don't think anyone has touched on what it feels like from a family perspective to have a child overseas during the holidays -- just the wear and tear of emotions."

The story follows Rusty (played by Daniel Curtis), a soldier from Kentucky who is sitting by his buddy Joe's (Jamie Conatser) side during Christmas Eve while serving in Iraq. Joe had been injured in war and needs a miracle to make it through the night.

To keep the wounded spirits high, Rusty tells him about his family back in the states who are going through their Christmas traditions as the night passes.

In Kentucky, Rusty has a wife, Danielle (Brandi Kilgore), daughter Amy (Anna Cate Donelan), son Jeffrey (George Peters), brother Justin (Cameron Cox), sister Emma (Jordan Cox), mother, Joanne (Michelle Saarela) and father, Tim (Bruce Saarela), who are spending the evening together.

It's the memories of tradition that keep Rusty going while serving overseas.

"Faith and traditions are very important in a solid family," Ingbritsen said. "Holidays are really important, but Christmas always seemed to be a special time. It's a fun, warm feeling and that's why I wanted my first play to be a Christmas play."

There is also the tone that guardian angels are watching over everyone -- military or not.

"Without being overly religious, I truly believe that everyone has a guardian angel," Ingbritsen said. "The guys that are over there, not only do they have somebody watching over them when they get injured, (but) the families need to know that they are being protected. I think it's a comfort feeling."

And Joe needs his angel to act fast. If he dies from his wounds, he will leave behind a young wife (Madison Maxwell) and infant son.

"I hope that everyone who comes get something out of it, but for those who don't have a loved one in the military, I hope they gain a different perspective on what it's like," Ingbritsen said. "Before our son was over there, we knew guys that were over there and I come from a military family, but until it actually hit home, it was a whole other feeling."

The play runs through Dec. 23.