‘Tis the season… for dating disasters | Arts


New Year’s Eve explosions of party color and glitter bring some temporary joy to Mary, an actress who recounts her relationship disasters in “The Twelve Dates of Christmas. The role is played by Grace Jacobson, who brings a theater background from Chicago and Boston.

Danyelle Tinker calls the show, “a very cute, nontraditional holiday story.” And she is excited to bring “The Twelve Dates of Christmas” to the stage in Astoria this month.

The one-woman show will be performed at the Ten Fifteen Theater. It opens 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Dec. 17, with one matinee Sunday.

Audiences are introduced to Mary, a New York actress who travels home to visit family in the Midwest alone because her boyfriend has excused himself from the trip. Her world is devastated when she turns on a broadcast of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and her television screen reveals him passionately kissing another woman.

What follows takes the audience through her disillusionment with men, her tentative re-entering the dating world and the subsequent disasters that make her doubt she will ever find true love.

‘Friends’Tinker is executive director of Ten Fifteen Productions. She has taken a behind-the-scenes approach through its first full year – with one colorful exception in a scene from Molière’s “The Misanthrope” in the variety show called “Almost Baroque” last December.

As she and board members of the newly established group designed their season for 2022 more than a year ago, they faced two problems. “We were coming up short with our holiday option. No one wanted to direct anything in that slot,” she said.

Colorfully wrapped packages

Christmas is the season for surprises inside colorfully wrapped packages, but the look on Jacobson’s face suggests her character doesn’t seem to embrace the joy of the moment.

Tinker consulted with Susi Brown, a director who had been the driving force behind Pier Pressure Productions, a forerunner of the Ten Fifteen and a founding board member when the new theater embraced its renovated Astoria storefront location.

Not wanting an elaborate Christmas show, they sought a small-scale, nontraditional script, but one with a holiday theme. They rejected “The Eight Reindeer Monologues” as a tad too raunchy and dark.

Then they discovered “The Twelve Dates of Christmas”

“I read it and fell in love with it,” said Tinker, charmed by the experiences of the character Mary. “It was a person that I would want to be friends with. She is a peer to me. Every woman on reaching a certain age has gone through this scenario.”

Tinker decided to direct the show herself. A co-founder and executive managing director of the Twilight Theater Co. in north Portland’s Kenton neighborhood, she moved to the North Coast in 2018 and acted in a couple of shows at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse in Cannon Beach before the Astoria management position was created.

‘Saucy’The show was written by Ginna Hoben, an actress with lengthy Shakespeare credits and her own work, who is gaining visibility hosting podcasts for children. It premiered at a small Virginia theater in 2010 and was embraced in New York by the Manhattan Repertory Theatre a year later.

Reviewers have been upbeat about prior productions. One described Mary as “more of an earthy dame than a delicate, refined 30-something. She’s the saucy heroine the audience roots for.” Another wrote that a production was “cheeky holiday fun that adults can enjoy during a season filled with sentimental family shows.”


Mistletoe at Christmas? A character played by Grace Jacobson isn’t happy in this moment from “The Twelve Dates of Christmas,” a humorous look at the dating world from the perspective of a woman who has not enjoyed much success.

Grace Jacobson plays Mary. She grew up doing theater in Chicago then earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Boston College. She moved to Astoria in 2020 after enjoying the coast during a vacation. It is her first onstage appearance since her college years, although she served as stage manager for the Ten Fifteen’s “Stupid F—-ing Bird” in April.

While eager not to give away the ending, Tinker invites audiences to enjoy Mary’s dating journey. One hint: after several disappointments, the actress’s life may take a potentially happier trajectory when she is cast as “The Ghost of Christmas Past.”

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