There has been a devastating fire at Santa's workshop.

The toy factory is destroyed, and the elves are outside, striking for better working conditions. They sent a festively gift-wrapped brick through the window with their list of demands.

Thus begins "ELFuego," a holiday musical.

"The set -- while it has green wallpaper and gold lame all around -- it's all crinkly and peeling and charred," said Kate Brennan, artistic director of BCKSEET productions and author of "ELFuego." "There's a gear wall with a bunch of gears, but the paint is peeling off of it."

In an attempt to save Christmas, an elf named named Scab, played by Sarah Doherty, kidnaps four humans to keep the factory going. They are held against their will, forced to speak in rhyme:

"How long 'till we get out?" asks Hope, a business executive recently laid off from Fannie Mae.
"Why don't you tell me?" taunts Scab, the elf.
"I'd like to get back now," demands Quran, a perpetual grad student.
"Then decorate this tree!" says Scab.

"Really? I love this!" chirps Euki, a pregnant nun.
"What are you smoking?" mocks Hope.
"I could keep you here forever," Scab offers.
"She's really not joking!" says Quran, aghast.

All four human characters (played by Cindy Spitko, Craig Bazan, Maria Konstantinidis and Jeremy Gable as Frank, a veteran recently returned from Afghanistan) are unemployed. Their self-worth, as expressed through solo musical numbers, is at an all-time low.

"When I think of Christmas, I'm less than overjoyed.
The city's raising taxes, and we're mostly unemployed..."

"It's feel-good. It really is," insists Brennan. "It doesn't sound like it, but it's a reclaiming of the holiday season. While it sounds dark -- and it is -- it is really inspirational at the end."

Brennan and her husband, Greg DeCandia, co-founded BCKSEET, a company that produces infrequently but with gusto. This one has a live, five-piece orchestra performing original songs by Brennan.

She couched her anti-consumerism message, and her sympathy for the unemployed, in the style of classic Broadway songwriting and radio-friendly pop music.

"I wrote it thinking it would be a little subversive message wrapped in a really beautiful red bow," she says.

"Yes, child! You always need to fight!" sings Scab, exuberantly. "If you play with fire, you'll see the light!"

"ELFuego" continues at the Adrienne Theater in Rittenhouse Square until the end of the year.