The Trial Before Christmas is now a Hallmark Movie

Watch the Trailer:

A former actress trying to break into directing tests her skills with a Christmas Eve courtroom production in which the true authorship of the famous poem "A Visit from St. Nick" is debated. Starring Torrey DeVitto and Zane Holtz.

Troy Story Gets Hallmark Movie Treatment

“Twas the Night Before Christmas” premieres Dec. 17 on Hallmark Channel

- TV Movie Inspired by Duncan Crary & Jack Casey’s “The Trial Before Christmas”


TROY, N.Y. — The Hallmark Channel will premiere a two-hour film Saturday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. based on a Christmas-themed mock trial originally staged in Troy's historic courthouse.
“'Twas the Night Before Christmas” stars Torrey DeVitto, best known for her six-season run on NBC's “Chicago Med," and Zane Holtz, a recurring cast member in the CBS’ crime thriller “NCIS.”
The movie is set in Troy, N.Y., and is both based on and inspired by “The Trial Before Christmas,” created by Troy authors Duncan Crary and Jack Casey. Filming took place in Ottawa this fall.
Movie Synopsis
Madison (DeVitto) is an actress looking to broaden her career and hopes that directing an annual Christmas play in Troy, N.Y. will give her a perfect chance to prove her skills.
Part play, part mock trial, the show features two lawyers arguing whether “A Visit from Saint Nick” was authored by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr. and has the audience decide as jury.
Madison casts an old costar, Connor (Holtz), who is struggling to balance time for acting and his young daughter, Josie. Despite feeling a spark with Connor, Madison has a rule to never date an actor.
The production features two over zealous cosplayers, depicting Moore and Livingston, who are remarkably convincing when they can be found. Lena, Madison’s leading lady, proves less convincing since she's only "acted" as a hand model and is the producer's girlfriend.
Madison worries her first directing effort will flop, but hopes that determination and support from the town -- and from Connor -- can make it work.
Writing Credits
“’Twas the Night Before Christmas” was directed by Gary Yates. The script is by C. Jay Cox (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “Latter Days”) and Gary Yates, based upon the play entitled “The Trial Before Christmas,” written by Duncan Crary and Jack Casey.
Hallmark Title Screen Duncan Crary Jack Casey 400px

Advance Praise - "Strangely Brilliant"
In her Nov. 25, 2022 holiday movie guide, NPR’s pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes praised “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” noting “Even the very traditional Hallmark sometimes hits upon a concept that is strangely brilliant.
NPR Logo with Linda Holmes's name.
"Strangely Brilliant"

Linda Holmes

When & Where Can You Watch ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas?
The premiere of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas is on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m., on Hallmark Channel.
Hallmark Press release

Official Hallmark Media Kit

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The Troy Christmas Connection
The beloved poem beginning with "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" first appeared anonymously in The Troy Sentinel newspaper on Dec. 23, 1823. An instant classic, the happy rhymes and rhythms created a distinctly American Santa Claus.
Decades after the poem's first publication, wealthy biblical scholar Clement Clarke Moore claimed authorship and has been officially credited ever since. But gentlemen farmer Henry Livingston, Jr., of the Hudson Valley, may be the true, unrecognized author, according to his descendants.
Crary and Casey first staged their mock trial to determine the true poet on Dec. 18, 2013 in the Rensselaer County Courthouse in downtown Troy. Casey and his daughter Molly Casey, both practicing attorneys, represented the Livingstons suing Moore for committing "literary piracy." Troy attorney E. Stewart Jones defended Moore. A jury selected from the packed courtroom was unable to reach a verdict in '13, so the case was retried the following year during Troy’s Victorian Stroll. Both courtroom spectacles made news around the world.
Crary and Casey plan to watch the Hallmark movie together for the first time when it premieres Saturday, Dec. 17.
“I love that Hallmark leaned into the quirky charisma of our original production,” said Crary, a publicist known for promoting Troy to the world. “This will add a lot of excitement for our city's connection to this beloved poem as it turns 200 years-old next Christmas.”
Trial Before Christmas poster

2014 Poster: The Trial Before Christmas

In addition to being the “Hometown of Uncle Sam,” Crary says he’d like to see Troy promote itself as the "birthplace of Santa" since it was this poem that first described a distinctly American holiday figure, who would later be known as Santa Claus, as jolly and plump and who flies through the air in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, each individually named, to enter houses through the chimney and place gifts in stockings on the eve of Dec. 25. This depiction of Santa was markedly different in behavior, demeanor and, arguably, purpose from earlier predecessors. These magic verses printed in The Sentinel made Santa come to life, and, like an early meme, passed from one imagination to another, round the earth, he noted.
"Two centuries ago Troy gave this Christmas gift to the world," said Troy native Casey, an attorney and novelist. "I remember the magic in my children's eyes as I read it each Christmas Eve, and they imagined a sleigh pulled by reindeer and Santa leaving them toys. If not for a humble Troy newspaper editor, this masterpiece might be collecting dust in some forgotten archive."
Watch the Original
Use the player below to watch a full video of 2014’s "The Trial Before Christmas," filmed in the Rensselaer County Courthouse in Troy.