Q: You’re starring in Hot Chocolate at Park Square Theatre, a musical about a couple sorting out their differences during Christmas. This isn’t Bing Crosby fantasy-land, is it?
Thomasina Petrus: When I was creating this with [director] Austene Van, I didn’t want a show where the audience feels guilty that their own families aren’t as perfect as the one onstage.
Julius Collins: I’ve never done a Christmas show before—on purpose. I grew up in a foster home in Mississippi where there were not always enough presents to go around. So I love that this show doesn’t pretend that life is perfect.
Q: The music isn’t typical either.
JC: You’ll recognize a few things. But you’re also gonna be, like, “James Brown has a Christmas song?” Yes, he has 12 of them, though they’re all basically the same song—huh!
Q: What’s the key to launching a new holiday show?
TP: With so many Christmas shows, you already know how you’re going to feel before you arrive. We wanted characters you’re not so sure about, but you want to see what happens. We’re already writing Hot Chocolate II!
Q: What are your favorite holiday songs of all time?
JC: I grew up in an old-fashioned black church, so “O Holy Night” still gets me.
TP: “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt—that might be in the show [winks]. Also, “Mary, Did You Know?”—Kenny Rogers sang that with Wynonna Judd.
Q: Kissing under mistletoe: always, sometimes, or never?
TP: I’m a hopeless romantic, so yeah, bring it on.
JC: I’m a kisser—I don’t need any mistletoe.
Q: Marshmallows in your hot chocolate?
TP: Only real chocolate marshmallows. A shot of Bailey’s works, too.
Hot Chocolate opens November 30 at Park Square Theatre, parksquaretheatre.org