Theatre NOVA to Present THE YEAR WITHOUT A PANTO CLAUS By Carla Milarch And R. MacKenzie Lewis

The production will run From Dec. 15, 2023 - Jan. 7, 2024.

By: Nov. 28, 2023
Theatre NOVA to Present THE YEAR WITHOUT A PANTO CLAUS By Carla Milarch And R. MacKenzie Lewis

Theatre NOVA, Ann Arbor's resident nonprofit professional theatre, continues its 2023-24 season with “The Year Without a Panto Claus” by Carla Milarch and R. MacKenzie Lewis, which runs December 15, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

Santa's been watching too much depressing cable news again. When he decides to take the year off, elves Jingle and Jangle search the globe to find him and bring back Christmas cheer. From the brilliant minds that brought you “An Almost British Christmas” and “Sugar Plum Panto.” Directed by Carla Milarch, with music direction by Brian Buckner, featuring MONICA SPENCER, Roxy Carlin, Aya Jackson, Kori Fay, and Leah Fox.  The production team includes MONICA SPENCER (scenic), Jeff Alder (lighting), Genevieve Compton (costume), Becky Fox (props), and Briana O'Neal (stage management).

Theatre NOVA is located at 410 W Huron St, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. Showtimes are 7:30 pm on Fridays, 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm on Saturdays, and 2:00 pm on Sundays. General admission tickets are $30 ($12 for kids 16 years and under.) In addition, Theatre NOVA continues to make theatre accessible by offering pay-what-you-can tickets for those who need them at all performances. All Friday performances except Opening Night will be mask-required to provide a safe space for our immunocompromised patrons and those who want a higher level of risk mitigation. This policy is subject to change, following fluctuating local, state, and federal guidelines. Please check our current COVID-19 policy before your scheduled performance date.

Tickets, memberships, flex passes, and subscriptions may be purchased online at Tickets may also be purchased in person one hour before each performance. Seating in the theatre will begin 30 minutes before each performance. There is ample free parking and quick access to the city's restaurants, bars, bakeries, and coffee shops. For more information, visit

Theatre NOVA is dedicated to raising awareness of the value and excitement of new plays and new playwrights in a diverse and expanding audience; and providing resources and outlets for playwrights to develop their craft, by importing, exporting, and developing new plays and playwrights.


Carla Milarch (Playwright/Director) is a former artistic director of Performance Network Theatre, whose passion for new plays led her to co-found Theatre NOVA. As a dramaturg and director, she has helped bring 25 brand new plays to fully-staged productions, as well as hundreds of plays to staged readings, including those at the Michigan Playwrights Festival, the Fireside New Play Festival, the NNPN National Showcase of New Plays (board member), and the Kennedy Center's MFA playwrights' workshop. She served as board president of the Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance. Some awards include “Best Overall Season/Artistic Direction” from the Oakland Press, “Outstanding Contributions to an Ensemble” from The Detroit Free Press, “Most Valuable Performer” from the Oakland Press, and the Between the Lines
“Angel” award for outstanding contributions to the LGBT community. Carla's love and experience for both sides of the stage have taken her from producing theatre at The Barn Theatre in Port Sanilac Michigan, to co-founding a theatre in Amarillo, TX with her Purchase classmates, to producing theatre in a barn again—this time in the middle of a world-class city.

R. MacKenzie Lewis (Composer) is the composer/music director for Eastern Michigan University's School of Communication, Media, and Theatre Arts and a lecturer and accompanist with the School of Music and Dance. Favorite projects outside of university life include music directing and orchestrating the National Tour and Off-Broadway premiere of “The Berenstain Bears Live! In Family Matters, the Musical”; “Titanic,” and “Gypsy” at the Hangar Theatre in New York (Broadway World Award, Best Music Direction); “A Little Night Music” at the Performance Network (Wilde Award, Best Music Direction); “Legally Blonde” at MSU (Pulsar Award, Best Music Direction); “Irrational" (Composer, Wilde Award, Best New Script); and “Romance in Hard Times” with William Finn at the Barrington Stage Co. He composed music for the shows “Wings of Ikarus,” “Jason Invisible,” and “Mockingbird” (two Helen Hayes nominations), all of which were commissioned and premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Lewis has also composed the musicals: “Video Games: The Rock Opera,” “Treasure Island,” “Pinocchio,” “An Almost British Christmas,” “Sugar Plum Panto,” “The Elves and the Schumachers,” and “Soaring on Black Wings," a world premiere with Ben Vereen.

Kori Fay (Santa, Heat Miser, Policeman, Bernie, Vixen, Anderson Cooper) is a metro-Detroit-based Actor, Teaching Artist, and Theatre Educator. Having graduated from Oakland University in 2020 with a BFA in Acting, Kori continues to weaponize their BFA by acting, teaching, directing, improving, and clowning around. Seen most recently on the stage with Great Plains Theatre in Abilene, Kansas, Kori is grateful to be home on a Michigan stage again. Kori is thrilled to open their first show with Theatre NOVA, and what better show than this? Thanks to the pals, the fam, and everyone involved in the production. Have a good show, and Happy Holidays! Thanks for supporting live theatre!

MONICA SPENCER (Jangle/Set Designer) is delighted to be back for the Panto at Theatre NOVA for the fifth year in a row! Monica attended the Young Americans College of the Performing Arts, studied musical theatre at the New York Film Academy, and continued her education at Eastern Michigan University for degrees in Media Broadcast Journalism and Art. Her previous set designs with Theatre NOVA include “The Language Archive,” “Sugar Plum Panto,” “An Almost British Christmas,” “Lifespan of a Fact” (Wilde Award Winner), “Sing Happy,” “I'm Streaming of an Alright Christmas,” “Apple Season,” “DJ Whittington's Kool Kat,” “Follies,” and “Admissions.” She has also designed sets for Detroit Opera House, Tipping Point, Encore Musical Theatre Company, Flint Repertory Theatre, Black and Brown Theatre, and Oakland Community College. Monica previously ran Bella Fortuna's Dinner Theatre and has entertained guests with Carnival Cruise Line. You may recognize Monica from “The Language Archive,” “Sugar Plum Panto,” “An Almost British Christmas,” or “I'm Streaming of an Alright Christmas.” Other favorite roles include Susanna/Sister Mary Jo in “Desperate Measures” (Dio), Amanda Borden in “The Magnificent Seven” (Flint Rep), Siobhan in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” (Dio - Wilde Award Winner), Laura in “Advantage Rule” (Open Book) and Joan in “Fun Home” (Encore). Monica would like to thank her friends and family and the NOVA team for all their love and support. An extra big thank you to Carla for always making her feel seen and valued as an artist and friend, and to Josh Moore for being the most wonderful life partner and set builder helper a gal could ask for! Check out for future performances and other artistic endeavors.

Leah Fox (Jingle, Mrs. T, Snow Miser, Rich Lady, Mrs. Claus, Katie Porter) - Theatre Nova debut! Thank you for supporting live theater! Favorite performance credits include “A Little Night Music” (Charlotte), “Sweeney Todd” TODD (Ensemble), and “Assassins” (Emma Goldman) with Encore Musical Theatre Company, “Company” (Amy), “Mary Poppins” (Mary Poppins), and “She Loves Me” (Amalia) at the Croswell Opera House, “Assassins” (Sara Jane Moore) at The Ringwald, “Ragtime (Pianist) with Flint Rep, and “Rosie the Riveter” (Donna) at Wild Swan Theater. Music direction credits include “Next to Normal,” “Big Fish” (Encore MTC), “Violet,“ “The Prom” (Croswell), “Edges” (Penny Seats), and “Urinetown” (Northern Stage). She sends all her love to Ashley and Elias. 

Aya Jackson (Iggy) is a 6th grader at Forsythe Middle School. She most recently performed in “School of Rock” with Young People's Theater. Aya has been in three other productions with YPT, including “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Matilda,” and “Into the Woods.” She also participated in two Haisley Players shows, “Annie, Jr.,” and “Lion King, Jr.” Aya loves dancing at Dance Theatre Studio, playing the clarinet and basketball, and watching musicals as much as possible. Aya thanks her family and everyone at Theatre Nova for supporting her dream to be in a Panto!

Roxy Carlin (Iggy) is so excited to be in this production! They are a sixth grader and go to Forsythe Middle School. They have been in three shows before this: a character in a small show at a summer camp, a scientist in a show called “Space Pirates,” and they acted as Snyder in “Newsies Jr.” They hope you enjoy the show!




Roxy Carlin
Aya Jackson
Kori Fay 
Leah Fox

Production Team:
Director: Carla Milarch
Music Director: Brian Buckner
Lighting design: Jeff Alder
Costume design: Genevieve Compton
Stage Manager/Props: Briana O'Neal
Props: Becky Fox

“The Year Without a Panto Claus” by Carla Milarch and R. MacKenzie Lewis
Theatre NOVA, 410 W. Huron, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Box office: 734-635-8450,
Tickets: $30 ($12 for kids 16 years and under.)



“The Year Without a Panto Claus” by Carla Milarch and R. MacKenzie Lewis
Dec. 15, 2023 - Jan. 7 2024 
Fri., Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. - Opening Night
Sat., Dec. 16, 3:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m. - Student Night (student ticket $12)
Sun., Dec. 17, 2:00 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. - mask required 
Sat., Dec. 23, 3:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 24, 2:00 p.m. 
Fri., Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m. - mask required
Sat., Dec. 30, 3:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 31, 2:00 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m. - mask required
Sat., Jan. 6, 3:00 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 7, 2:00 p.m.