One week before Christmas, Mrs. Claus is both surprised and delighted to be done with her long To-Do list. However, her relief is extremely short-lived. One last task has suddenly appeared: answering her mail. Thankfully, Mrs. Claus has help in the form of her Personal Elf Assistant, Buddy. Together, the two of them look over her large pile of letters asking some tough questions about the big guy and his operation. How does Santa get all of his work done in one night? How does he know when a kid has been bad? How do reindeer really fly? And why does Santa wear that silly red suit?
Knowing they must find a way to answer these questions, Mrs. Claus and Buddy begin talking to elves from every department of the North Pole: the Mail Room, Communication and Navigation, Reindeer Flight Design, and Santa’s Pit Crew being just a few. And during their investigation, Mrs. Claus not only learns a thing or two about the North Pole but a little something about her “highly professional” elf assistant as well. In the end, after satisfactorily answering her mail without somehow revealing all the secrets of the North Pole, Mrs. Claus is finally done with her To-Do list…she thinks.
Mrs. Claus’ Office at the North Pole
Adjustable up to 20 players, plus possible extras
7 Female, 9 Male, 4 Female or Male–Flexible
Approximately 45 minutes without an intermission
Production Notes (included with the playscript)
Dear Mrs. Claus is a very flexible play with roles of all sizes so there’s a little something for everyone. Keep in mind that the play depends strongly on the talents of the two largest roles, Buddy and Mrs. Claus. These characters are on stage the entire time, have quite a few lines to memorize, and set the tone of the play from the very first scene.
If you find yourself with a smaller or larger group than what the script calls for, there are several options for adjusting the script to your cast size. You could have your cast members double or even triple up on roles for the middle scenes with the different departmental elves. A quick change to their elf outfit to indicate what department they’re from would be all that’s really needed. A second option would be to add or remove characters in any particular middle scene. For instance, rather than two Communication and Navigation Department elves, you could have four. Instead of four elves from Santa’s Secret Spy Service, you could drop it to two. It’s all just a matter of reassigning the existing lines in the script. And finally, a third option could be to entirely remove one or more of the middle scenes. The play would still work seamlessly since the first and last scenes behave like bookends and don’t refer to anything specifically in the middle.
Also keep in mind that most of the roles can work for a girl or a boy. In most cases, it would just be a matter of changing the name to a different “B” name and possibly tweaking a few of their lines. For example, the Communication and Navigation Department Elves could just as easily be Bessie and Bethany, rather than Bill and Bob. Or Santa’s personal trainers, Bambi and Brenda could be Brutus and Bradley.
One last possibility for adding a few more characters is to include a group of reindeer in the scene with Bartholomew. They would enter the stage with him and stand quietly and hold the scroll out instead of Mrs. Claus and Buddy. Mrs. Claus could ask them directly if they enjoyed the peanut butter biscotti she made for them, and they could nod enthusiastically.
The stage should be designed to look like the office of Mrs. Claus at the North Pole: pictures of Santa, a December calendar, a coat stand, etc. Placed stage left there should be a desk with a chair behind it facing the audience. On the desk there is a nameplate saying “Mrs. Claus” facing outward and either an old-fashioned typewriter (with a stack of blank paper beside it) or a laptop positioned at the ready. There also needs to be a large cookie jar filled with cookies on one corner of the desk. A comfortable chair should be positioned beside the desk with a set of ear muffs somewhere within easy reach.
The stage remains the same throughout the play and nothing needs to come on or off between scenes. Plan for a lot of open space in which elves can stand and Mrs. Claus can pace.
The lid on the cookie jar should come on and off easily, and the cookies inside should be bite-size considering how many Mrs. Claus eats during just one performance. Make sure your actress gets a chance to practice with real cookies during a few of the final rehearsals—to be able to talk with your mouth full of cookie and still be understood by the audience is tricky. I wouldn’t think your actress will object too much to practicing this highly advanced acting technique.
It’s going to be very helpful to the character of Buddy if the letters in the mailbag are bundled up neatly with a note on top indicating the theme. It would also be advantageous to number the bundles according to the order of the scenes so that Buddy can reach into the bag and find the next one easily without having to try to remember what comes next. You can use a lot of blank envelopes for the bundles, but there should always be a real letter in the first envelope for Buddy to pull out and read aloud. And in the case of the first bundle, there needs to be several letters for him to leaf through. Don’t be afraid to have the letter bundles be large—the bigger you stuff those mailbags, the better!
Mrs. Claus’ To Do list scroll should be long, but still a length that she can easily roll back up quickly and without too much trouble. Same goes for the small recipe scroll in her apron pocket that she offers Bartholomew.
For Buddy, an old-fashioned typewriter allows him to clack on its keys, push the arm over after every line with the sound of a bell, and rip pages out with a flourish. However, you could also choose to have Buddy use a laptop and make it look like the business of the North Pole has moved into the 21st century.
The diagram of the reindeer which Bartholomew uses could be a great art project for a group of kids to tackle. Definitely make sure the diagram is large enough for the audience to see and labeled with all the things mentioned by Bartholomew. I think a “homemade look” is just fine here, but you could also have something that looks highly polished with an engineer’s stamp, too. Don’t forget the nostril blasters!
The scanner wand used by Spy #2 can be as simple as a cardboard tube covered with black construction paper. Unless you happen to be friends with someone who works airport security, and they can loan you something authentic.
I think the fact that almost all of the characters in “Dear Mrs. Claus” are elves makes it rather easy. Their departmental badges can be as simple as large stickers, although I always thought custom embroidered patches that pinned onto their costume would be awfully great if someone had the time and inclination. All the elves can wear a basic elf outfit but then accessorize with something else that matches their department. See the costumes and props grid for suggestions.
It’s important that Mrs. Claus is dressed in a lot of red since she refers to her own outfit in scene five. She’ll also need a holiday apron with a pocket to hold her cookie recipe scroll. Buddy could wear a real tie or a clip-on—whatever is most comfortable and easiest to get your hands on.
There are many, many different cookies mentioned in the script. Any or all of them would be delicious refreshments following the play. Listed in order of the scenes, they are: shortbread cookies, sugar cookies, peppermint sandwich cookies, low-fat oatmeal raisin cookies, madeleines, Linzer cookies with cherry filling, chocolate thumbprints, gingersnaps, marshmallow fluff bars, powdered snowballs, double coconut drops, fig bars, and gingerbread men. Make them all and have something for everyone!
If you happen to have a cast that’s exceptionally confident, you might have them try to stay in character after the play and behave as if they’re at the “elf office party” alluded to so many times in the script. This could carry on during refreshments to the audience’s delight. But watch Buddy, of course. He’s quite the party elf.
Each playscript comes as a downloadable PDF document, and includes an extensive Production Notes section to help with all aspects of the production, as well as an invaluable Organizational Grid with each character’s costume suggestion and any props needed.
With purchase, you are granted the right to copy this script as needed for amateur performances for a period of one year from the date of purchase. More information on the Copyright page.