Friday, December 14, 2007

(another) Night Before Christmas

Christmas theatre.... "A Christmas Carol", song filled stories of family and friends, the story of Jesus' birth, warm good feeling, Santa Claus, children. Formula? Usually.

Leave it to the American Heartland Theatre to come up with something engaging, a little off beat but still sticking to a crowd pleasing formula.

"(another) Night Before Christmas" now playing at the AHT (again as I always mention, a wonderful, intimate theatre that allows you to take your cocktails in with you!) through Dec 30th. The plot is simple, but timely and certainly entertaining. The two character musical involves Karol, a disillusioned, cynical social worker and a homeless man named Guy or (Clement Moore, the man who wrote "The Night Before Christmas) who breaks into her loft, takes over, makes incredible crab cakes and tries to convince her that he's Santa Claus. Karol resists but soon has to admit he sure seems like the jolly old elf. With witty dialog and a few hearty laughs along with a few well placed and well written songs, the show breezes along to its obvious and satisfying conclusion.

Karol is perfectly portrayed by Carey Van Driest and Don Forston as a convincing and always hilarious The Guy (aka Clement Moore, Santa Claus...whatever). Neither performance was of the over the top style that will sometimes mar AHT performances. Since this is another Sean Grennan and Leah Okimoto collaboration (as in the whitty "Married Alive" and the best production I have seen at AHT "A Dog's Life") the music and whole pace of the production is spot on.

As I mentioned, a crowd pleaser but still a little off beat, humorous but also enlightening. And certainly better than last year's stinkeroo of a Christmas show from the AHT.

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