You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, but do you recall Gustav the Green-Nosed Rain Goat? You don’t? Well, maybe that’s because you haven’t seen Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some). If you haven’t, you’re in luck. Chapel Street Players in Newark, Delaware is serving up this Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez holiday treat this holiday season.
Three actors are about to present their production of Dickens’ BHC—that’s beloved holiday classic, if you didn’t know—A Christmas Carol. The audience is in their seats, the show has started, “Marley was dead: to begin with…” Only one actor isn’t having it. She (yes, I said she—CSP has delightfully swapped gender roles for this production and assigned two of the roles traditionally played by male actors to female actors). Anyway, Brooks is onstage speaking her lines and Colleen (she’s playing Marley’s ghost) just can’t take another year of doing A Christmas Carol. She played Mrs. Cratchit in last year’s production and she’s over it. Frank, the third actor, enters and also chimes in and together they convince Brooks to present every Christmas story ever told. Brooks’ only condition is that they include A Christmas Carol. The others agree and hilarity ensues.
Spoiler alert! The play does not include every Christmas story ever told, but by jingle it includes A LOT of them. There’s a nod to the Nutcracker and the cast pays homage to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with a fun version of the Peanuts dance and Linus’ reading of the Gospel of Luke. It’s a fast paced show with jokes fired out at the audience faster than you can say Jack Frost. Some are great some will make you groan if you have time to think about them, but you don’t. As I said, the show is fast paced with lots of laughs (your little round belly will shake like a bowl full of jelly), lots of costume changes and an almost constant presence on stage by the three hard working actors. For parents considering bringing children, there is some delightful (but mildly naughty humor) and a discussion about whether SC really exists. Throughout Act I, the zaniness comes more rapid than eagles with singing, dancing, bawdy jokes, and the dismantling of the fourth wall.
In Act II, Brooks finally gets her way as the cast presents A Christmas Carol…sort of. It’s more like A Wonderful Christmas Carol Life, but very, very funny. The second act is much shorter than the first, but there are still some fun surprises and hearty laughs in store for the audience. I won’t spoil them here.
Brooks Black (Brooks) is a delight as she resolutely tries to stage A Christmas Carol, her idea of what Christmas means to her, and must suffer through the presentation of multiple other BHCs and her cast mates’ mockery before finally getting to do so. In many ways, she plays the “straight man,” but has plenty of comic moments herself. Frank Newton (Frank) is charming and funny with fantastic comic timing as well as hilarious facial expressions and a natural delivery that makes you forget he’s acting. And Colleen Doyle (Colleen) delivers huge laughs as many off-the-wall characters like Frosty, a pirate, and a host of others, but still manages to charm the audience with her childlike belief in Santa.
Director Susie Moak (with Assistant Director Cindy Starcher and Stage Manager Brian Touchette) has put together a wonderfully zany adaptation of this play. Set Designers Scott F. Mason and Bill Fellner, have again crafted a set that is both appealing and functional. Lighting and sound cues are on the money.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) is a great family show (probably best suited to kids 10 and up) and destined to become a NBHC—that’s new beloved holiday classic. If you need a little Christmas right this very minute, call the CSP box office and reserve your tickets today. Now if I could just get that Norelco Santa jingle out of my head…
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) at Chapel Street Players
through December 10th
Chapel Street Players, 27 N. Chapel Street, Newark DE 19711