Locally written holiday play ‘Christmas at Rattlesnake Gulch’ set for Mountain View Baptist Church in Centralia

Kevin Caserta and Steve George work together to create new holiday tale 


While most church Christmas plays follow the traditional Nativity story, Mountain View Baptist Church in Centralia will host a very different kind of Christmas story Dec. 15-17. 

“How many Christmas plays feature cacti, pickaxes and silver dollars, or open with a comedic scene about the lead characters being tarred and feathered?” Chronicle columnist Brian Mittge said of Dr. Kevin Caserta and Steve George’s new play, “Christmas at Rattlesnake Gulch.” 

Described by the co-writers and co-directors as a “Western melodrama,” “Christmas at Rattlesnake Gulch” is a comedic and heartwarming take on some traditional Christmas themes. 

“We wanted to do something that shared the gospel and also was fun … in sort of an ‘Apple Dumpling Gang’ kind of way, and then also really developed some complex characters, in particular of the lead roles,” Caserta said of the play. 

“Christmas at Rattlesnake Gulch” opens with swindler Jake Headley (Alex Johnson) “plucking” his sidekick, Hector Bogonzales (Randy Humphreys), who has been tarred and feathered. After a conversation “about a false sense of salvation, where essentially you have to do more good than bad to earn your way into heaven,” the two embark on a quest to recover a mysterious treasure from Rattlesnake Gulch and convince the townsfolk to help them. 

“I won’t spoil it, but it is a play that takes place on Christmas, so you can expect a happy ending,” Caserta said. 

Dwelling on the main theme of the play, Caserta said, “Ultimately, ‘Christmas at Rattlesnake Gulch’ is about grace, the greatest gift ever … The play tries to show that everyone in that town needs grace from each other and, most importantly, God. In today's world, we too often judge each other, too often think that we can work hard enough and make it alone. Only by coming together, showing and accepting grace, does the town of Rattlesnake Gulch find a solution to save itself.” 

While the show does convey a Christian gospel message, Caserta and George wrote the play with the intent of making it enjoyable for all audiences, regardless of their religious beliefs. 

“It’s fun and has a lot of jokes, a lot of comedy, and so you don’t have to have any religious beliefs whatsoever to enjoy the characters, their predicaments and how they interact with each other,” Caserta said. 

Caserta and George each wrote one-act plays on their own before “Christmas at Rattlesnake Gulch,” but the play is the co-writers’ first full-length production. 

George came up with the idea for the story about five years ago, Caserta said, adding, “It just kind of was in the back of our minds for probably about a year before we actually put the thing to paper.” 

Caserta wrote out the first couple of scenes and an outline for the rest of the show, and he and George then spent the next several years collaborating online to finish the script, with much of the work getting done during the pandemic. 

“It was really a great distraction for us,” Caserta said of the writing process, adding that it has been great “to really be able to see it come together (with) really talented actors that we’re blessed to work with … and then watch how they’ve added to these characters.” 

“Christmas at Rattlesnake Gulch” runs at Mountain View Baptist Church, located at 1201 Belmont Ave. in Centralia, from Friday, Dec. 15, through Sunday, Dec. 17. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and  3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free. 


Cast list 

Hector Bogonzales: Randy Humphreys

Jake Headley: Alex Johnson

Louise Binder: Kay Morton

Reverend Fred Binder:  Mark Johnson

Hildegard Percifield: Elise Caserta

Mayor Thomas Percifield: Sam Mittge

Roscoe: Dale Bradrick

Big Hank: Joseph Caserta

Sister Perpetua: Gloria Wilcox 

Sister Agnes: Anika Skaar

Jane Binder: Neli VonWald

Old Frank: Kevin Caserta


Production staff 

Director, props: Kevin Caserta

Director, props: Steve George

Special consultant: Angela Wilcox

Sound: Steven Neely

Costumes: Mary Jones

Costumes: Peggy Gilbertsen

Camera:  Mikah Skaar

Livestream: Matt Wilkerson