The ancient tale of Troy inspires the new Hallmark film – Saratogian

TROY, NY – The Hallmark Channel will premiere a new Christmas movie, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ on December 17 at 8pm. The film is set in Troy and is inspired by a 2014 play by local writers Duncan Crary and Jack Casey, The Trial Before Christmas. Filming took place in Ottawa in the fall.

Twas the Night Before Christmas stars Torrey DeVitto and Zane Holtz. It tells the story of an actress who wants to expand her career by getting into directing. The play she is directing is based on The Trial Before Christmas and features two lawyers arguing over whether Clement C. Moore or Henry Livingston Jr. is the true author of the famous poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas . The director chooses to cast a former co-star in the play, as well as a cast of other colorful characters. As with any Hallmark Christmas film, there is predictable hilarity, romance, and “Christmas Magic.”

The beloved and timeless poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” which begins with the immortal line “Twas the night before Christmas,” was first published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823, distinctly American Santa Claus. Decades after the poem was first published, wealthy biblical scholar Clement Clarke Moore claimed authorship and has been officially recognized ever since. But gentlemen farmer Henry Livingston, Jr. of the Hudson Valley, perhaps the true unrecognized author, at least according to his descendants.

Crary and Casey first staged their mock trial on December 18, 2013 at the Rensselaer County Courthouse in downtown Troy to determine the real poet. Casey and his daughter Molly, both practicing attorneys, represented the Livingstons, who sued Moore for “literary piracy.” Troy’s attorney, E. Stewart Jones, defended Moore. A jury selected from the crowded courtroom failed to reach a verdict in 13, so the case was tried again the following year during Troy’s Victorian Stroll. Both courtroom spectacles made headlines around the world.

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Crary and Casey plan to watch the Hallmark movie together when it premieres on Saturday.

“I love that Hallmark has borrowed from the whimsical charisma of our original production,” Crary said in a press release. “This will add much excitement to our city’s connection to this beloved poem as it turns 200 next Christmas.”

Aside from being the “hometown of Uncle Sam,” Crary says he’d like to see Troy presented as Santa’s birthplace.

“Two centuries ago, Troy gave the world this Christmas gift,” Casey said in a press release. “I remember the magic in my kids eyes when I read it every Christmas Eve and they imagined a sleigh pulled by reindeer and Santa Claus left them toys. Without a humble newspaper editor from Troy, this masterpiece could gather dust in a forgotten archive.”

To view a full 2014 video of The Trial Before Christmas, filmed at Rensselaer County Courthouse in Troy, visit

Cast and crew of the 2014 play "The process before Christmas" at the Rensselaer County Courthouse.  (Photo by Neil Grabowsky)
Cast and crew of the 2014 play “The Trial Before Christmas” at the Rensselaer County Courthouse. (Photo by Neil Grabowsky)
A historical marker on the building that formerly housed The Troy Sentinel points to the original publication of "A visit from Saint Nicholas." (photo provided)
A historical marker on the building that formerly housed The Troy Sentinel points to the original publication of A Visit From Saint Nicholas. (photo provided)

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