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Review: Ready or Not, It’s Christmastime on the Armour Street Stage

by | Dec 14, 2023

Versatility. That’s what theatre is all about and Davidson Community Theatre has the touch. Lesi Jonap, one of Lake Norman’s most polished actors can play the ditzy Mom or the persistent ghost of the Mom of a dysfunctional family with equal aplomb in an every-family Christmas show.

When I settled down in my favorite seat at the Armour Street Theatre hoping for an infusion of holiday spirit from DCPs seasonal Christmas play, A nice Family Gathering, by Phil Olson, I became confused. Some of the scenes about an everyday family seemed to be familiar but I hadn’t seen the show before. Was I losing my mind? Déjà vu? Then it clicked when I conferred with the show’s director Stuart Jonap.

Six years ago, Lesi Jonap played the “ghost” of Mom in Mom’s Gift, another Christmas play written by the same playwright, Olson. This year Lesi plays the “ditzy” Mom very much alive—perhaps a little nutty and forgetful at times, but somewhat clever and decidedly intuitive.

Dad, portrayed by Richard Colven, is the ghost of the father who recently died in A nice Family Gathering, revealing himself only to his recalcitrant son Carl, played by Hayden Waugh. Dad begs his son to deliver an urgent message to his wife who has recently become a widow.The story of a man who loved his family so much they didn’t know it, A nice Family Gathering is full of twists and turns. The play dramatizes scenarios that could be familiar in any family when they get together for Christmas.

Andrew Williams plays Carl’s brother Michael; his wife Jill is portrayed by Melissa Bowden. Caeley Riordan portrays their sister Stacey.

The fun begins when Mom invites a friend for dinner—Jerry, a man the family has known, portrayed by Vincent Raye. The siblings are not impressed!

The set designed by Roger Watson is fabulous in every detail. It’s the replica of a perfect midwestern living room that is ready for the holidays—an inviting, lighted Christmas tree with oodles of gifts around its base. Stockings are hung at the fireplace and garland surrounds the room.

Every other detail of a comfortable room is in place: a well-stocked bookcase, pictures hanging on the wall, family photos on display, an inviting dining room table set for the family’s gusto, and wintertime windows with cozy curtains drawn. I’m decidedly impressed.

Yep! Davidson Community Players know how to set the mood—dysfunctional or well prepared, with cheer and tears, sibling rivalry and plots. With an urgent plea from the recent ghost—a patriarch who wants to let his wife know so much about his love.

You did it, Stuart Jonap, A nice Family Gathering is lots of fun!

Happy Christmas, one and all!

Tickets are still available for shows on Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16 at 8:00, and on Sunday, December 17 at 2:00. You can purchase tickets here.

Connie Fisher

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, founding member of Lake Norman Writers, Connie just released her latest book, "The Mongrel, Bi-cultural Adventures of a Latina-Scandinavian Youth," a memoir about her years growing up in Mexico.​

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