A Madcap Christmas Romp Rocks the Armour Street Stage
(If you would like to see the days and times for this show, please go to this link.)
They’re not kidding when Davidson Community Players claims to tell Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!) at the Armour Street Theatre. In rapid, rattling succession, by word, phrase, reference, or innuendo, in song, dance, or vignette, three zany actors tell or insinuate the stories of Christmas. All except the real one.
I’m not sure why playwrights Michael Carleton, Jams Fitzgerald, and John K. Alvarez wrote Every Christmas story Ever Told in 2007. For fun? Christmas merriment? Entertainment? For recollection? A jaunt down memory lane? Childhood anticipation? To test your brain? Some in the audience got it. They laughed, applauded, and cheered throughout both acts on opening night last Thursday.
My brain was jarred. Call me the slow child, if you wish. The loud, overbearing, rapid-fire delivery of ideas and lines only tended to irritate my appreciation of any kind of Christmas story.
I was relieved toward the end of the never-ending first act when Justin Thomas takes center stage as Linus with an oversized blue blanket (like the one Snoopy invariably tries to snatch on the run) requesting, “lights, please,” then delivers his well-known lines, “and lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them …for onto you is born this day in the city of David a savior…and on earth peace and good will toward men… that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” I agree!
Admittedly, Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!) does have some holiday value. I loved the introduction of Christmas traditions from other countries, such as Sweden’s burning candles crown, and I even enjoyed the garbled parody of Easter Island’s statues, effectively coordinated in unison by Emily Klingman and Justin Thomas. They play well together.
The Grinch’s escapades are incorporated into the play. After the tale of a lofty explanation, it is rein-goats who play games, not reindeer. “Gustof, with your nose so bright, won’t you be my date tonight?”
Belief in Santa Claus is important, as Emily emphasizes to A J Jefferson during a guessing game. “When you stop believing in Santa Claus, that’s when you start getting clothes for Christmas.”
A J, who packs a wealth of off-Broadway theatrical credits, is a newcomer to the Davidson stage. In his resounding deep voice, A J is hell-bent on delivering Scrooge’s story. “Marly was dead as a doornail,” he declares at the onset and finally gets his way during the second act when the trio intersperses lines from A Christmas Carol with It’s a Wonderful Life lines and scenes. Calmer and quick-witted, the second act is more coherent.
I appreciate Davidson Community Players’ approach to produce another kind of Christmas play. There are only a few valuable holiday plays and the same traditional dramas cannot be staged every year. I applaud Matt Webster who is a good director. He follows the zany script with élan. The trio onstage are accomplished actors. They deliver the mood of a madcap romp.
A J Jefferson is a welcome addition to the Armour Street stage. Even amid chaos, he’s polished. In this play, Justin Thomas romps around like an overgrown kid and Emily Klingman’s ability to deliver rapid non-stop dialogue always amazes me.
Although Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!) is fast-moving and irreverent, I appreciate the talent it takes to deliver such parody. But I have to admit, I miss the reassuring good-will message of the real Christmas story, particularly during these uncertain, troubled times the world faces today.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!) continues in production Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons through December 19. Try to get a ticket. You’ll be entertained.
Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active member of Charlotte Writers’ Club North, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.