Monday, December 20, 2021

Weekly Margin 2021, W51: Striking 12, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Hindle Wakes, A Christmas Carol

12/18/21: Striking 12
What: Chance Theater's holiday show, a concert retelling of "The Little Match Girl," from the writing team of Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (Ernest Shackleton Loves Me) and Rachel Sheinkin (...Spelling Bee).
And? A charming little chamber musical, with the five cast members also serving as musicians (special props to Laura Leo Kelly and their drum solo, Lex Leigh sounding amazing on the electric violin, and Jacklyn Uweh on handheld percussives and bubbling over with charisma as the S.A.D. Light Seller/Little Match Girl), and it was fun to see an early work from writers I admire.

Jacklyn Uweh as S.A.D. Light Seller, with Laura Leo Kelly on drums.
Photo source.

What: Chance Theater's encore presentation of a family holiday show, a staging of exactly what it sounds like.
And? While the performances were deliberately very stylized (to appeal to the many many children in the audience and to harken to the television special), they were consistently so across the cast (yes, it grated a bit but it's also less than an hour). And I'll tell you what, I found the production design (Masako Tobaru and Megan Hill) and the staging (James Michael McHale) in this tiny theater a complete delight. Tiny houses and snow-laden trees appeared and disappeared on the snowy backdrop hills, manipulated by the actors using pulley systems. Two winter panels hinged from the walls to become the red velvet curtains for the rehearsal scene. Travel scenes were achieved by performers carrying houses and trees past the walking characters (yes, it's an old trick, but that doesn't make it any less charming). And, of course, Charlie Brown's sad and broken twig of a tree with its lone ornament was transformed by the children into a bedecked and lovely Christmas tree just in time for some singalong carols. 

Matt Takahashi and Juston Gonzalez-Rodholm as Charlie Brown and Linus.
Photo by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio.

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