The citizens of Christmas, Illinois are known for their unyielding incorruptibility–that is, until a stranger arrives hell-bent on destroying the town’s reputation for honesty once and for all…



CHICAGO, IL | The Inertia Theatre Project will produce “The Man That Corrupted Christmas (and exactly ONE other short story) by Mark Twainas an exclusive two-night-only acting/directing showcase at Strawdog Theatre Company the evenings of December 11 and 12, 2018, at 8pm. Adapted and directed by Corey Bradberry, the play’s ensemble of ten features Annie Burnett, Kayla DeFrenza, McKenzie Graham-Howard, Nick Grischow, Eliott Johnson, Kirsten Linder, Cat McGee, Patrick O’Keefe, P. Cullen Ryan, and Talia Santia.

The performance will last approximately eighty minutes with no intermission. This showcase is the second production by the Inertia Theatre Project, which premiered Daniel Glenn’s THE LAKES at Stage 773 this past October. The adaptation, based on Twain’s short story “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg”, was originally workshopped at the University of Southern Mississippi by Bradberry in 2015.

“This script honors Twain’s genius for satire while bringing his original tale into the here and now,” says Bradberry. “Though Twain never specifically wrote for the theatre, this story in particular is well-suited for our time, when the holidays can sometimes become synonymous with artificiality and skin-deep intentions. Living through America’s Gilded Age (a term he himself helped coin), Twain intentionally places the townspeople in peril’s way, testing the true mettle of their coveted reputation for honesty.”

Opening for the play both evenings is The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, another Twain story adapted/directed by Bradberry and featuring Courtney Matula. The infamous short story relates the curious tale of Daniel Webster, the biggest jumping frog to ever leap in southern California.

General admission is $10 cash / $12 card, with tickets available at the door only. Producers, Artistic Directors, and casting agents may contact Inertia Theatre Project for information on comp tickets. This show is recommended for ages 13+. Directions and more information about Strawdog Theatre Company can be found at its website.

Show Dates & Times:    Tuesday, December 11 @ 8pm  Wednesday, December 12 @ 8pm

  • What: “The Man That Corrupted Christmas by Mark Twain”, adapted by Corey Bradberry
  • Where: Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice Ave. Chicago, IL 60613.
  • When: Tuesday, December 11 and Wednesday, December 12 @ 8pm
  • Price: $10 cash / $12 card
  • Age Restrictions: recommended 13+
  • Pre-reserve or Pre-purchase Tickets here: tickets at door only
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Corey Bradberry (Director/Adapter) is a life-long fan of Mark Twain, and a stage director committed to clear, efficient, and compelling storytelling. A recent transplant to Chicago from Atlanta, Corey previously produced and directed Daniel Glenn’s THE LAKES at Stage 773 in October, and directed in 24-Hour Play Festivals with iO and Eclectic Theatre. Education: Master of Fine Arts in Directing (Theatre), University of Southern Mississippi; Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Performance Studies (Performance Concentration), Kennesaw State University. He would like to thank the ITP producers and cast members for their hard work.

Annie Burnett (the Librarian) is a Chicago based actor who just graduated with her B.F.A. from Ball State University. She recently worked on “123, a play about ballroom dancing and abandonment” at Chicago Actors Studio and finished creating her one person show, preformed at the Raven Theatre. She hopes you enjoy the show and wishes you happy holidays!

Kayla DeFrenza (Mary Richards) is very excited to be a part of The Man That Corrupted Christmas! Kayla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education and Theatre Arts from Dominican University. She was most recently seen as Mary Vetsera in Theatre Evolve’s production of Mayerling this September. When Kayla is not on the stage, she is performing as various princess characters for parties and events across the Chicago-land area. Kayla would like to thank her family and friends for all of their support. Happy Holidays!

McKenzie Graham-Howard (the Stranger) is a non-binary actor based in Chicago. They recently graduated from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and Corrupted Christmas is their city debut. They’d like to give a huge thanks to Inertia for having them on board, to their partner for endless support, and to the 7/11 near their apartment for carrying vegan chicken nuggets.

Nick Grischow (Edward Richards) is a Chicago transplant from Wisconsin. Nick holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Theater with a Performance focus from University of Wisconsin Whitewater. He is pleased to be working with Inertia Theatre Project on The Man That Corrupted Christmas. He has previously been seen in Chicago in On the Spot Theatre’s production of Pieces of Klee as the young Paul Klee. At UW-Whitewater he has appeared most notably as John Barrymore in I Hate Hamlet, Apollo in The Furies, and Markley in Radium Girls. He hopes you enjoy the show!

Eliott Johnson (Pinkerton the Banker) is ecstatic to join The Inertia project and the cast of The Man That Corrupted Christmas. Originally from the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Eliott graduated from Pace University (NY) in 2013. After a short time in professional sports, he returned to his true love of theater and was cast in Tammy Ryan’s A Soldier’s Heart other credits included Chicago Fire, Empire, Lowe’s and most recently the role of Mr. Marshall in Lilllian Hellman’s The Little Foxes at the Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest. A huge thank you to Corey and the Inertia Project, his mom Dianne, sister Leah, and his lovely Dog Allie. Eliott is represented by Stewart Talent.

Kirsten Linder (Publisher/Dr. Harkness) is a recent graduate of William and Mary and a new resident of Chicago. Corrupted Christmas is Kirsten’s Chicago theatre debut! She has also recently been accepted as a ensemble member with Quicksilver Shakespeare. During her time at William and Mary, Kirsten performed in notable roles such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Reggie Fluty in The Laramie Project, and Hellena in The Rover. She also choreographed and performed for her college’s student hip-hop dance team. Kirsten has studied theatre at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (Summer 2017) as well as at the National Theatre Institute (Summer 2016)

Courtney Matula (Jumping Frog Storyteller) is an actor, improviser, and clown originally from Minnesota. A recent grad of the Second City Conservatory program, she can be seen performing in the sketch revue The Holiday Batch at Second City on Thursdays this month. Courtney has performed as her clown Dandelion at the Chicago Women’s Funny Fest and will be debuting a Dandelion webseries in 2019. She would like to thank all of Chicago for forgiving her for talking to herself while she memorized this piece over the past month and to Corey for taking a chance on her. All the love in the world to her family and friends!

Cat McGee (Deacon Billson) is thrilled to be working with Inertia Theatre for the first time on The Man who Corrupted Christmas! Recent Chicago credits include The Hilary Duff Project (MCL Chicago), St. Joan (Greenhouse Theater Center) and Route (20% Theatre Company). You can also see her bopping around town with her improv team Dogfood at Second City and iO. Keep up with her on Instagram @kitcatmcgee. Endless thanks to her family and friends. Enjoy the show and happy holidays!

Patrick O’Keefe (Lawyer Wilson) is a Chicago native who recently graduated with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Millikin University. At Millikin, Patrick was seen in The Phantom of the Opera (Andre), Heathers, and the solo production Buyer & Cellar (Alex). This summer he appeared in Mamma Mia and Copacabana at the Round Barn Theatre in Indiana. The Man Who Corrupted Christmas is Patrick’s Chicago debut, and he would like to thank the friends, family, and teachers who made it possible.

P. Cullen Ryan (Reverend Burgess) is thrilled to be making his theatrical debut in Chicago. He began acting in Minnesota, where he developed a great love for the craft. He then moved to Seattle to study theater at Cornish College of the Arts, where he majored in Original Works. He is greatly appreciative to the Inertia Theatre Project for giving him his first opportunity to step onto a Chicago stage. Follow P. Cullen Ryan on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @pcullenryan. Website

Talia Santia (Jack Halliday) recently graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Drama performance and a certificate in Arts Administration. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, this is Talia’s Chicago debut. Her credits include: Nice Nails (Alyssa, Lydia, Rachel, Eve, Katy, Charlotte), The Wolves (#8), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Nina), Billy Witch (Sandy), Legally Blonde: The Musical (Gaelen), All Shook Up! (Lorraine), A Piece of My Heart (Mary Jo), Shrek! The Musical (Duloc Dancer), Footloose (Teen Dancer), and Peter Pan (Indian).