Monday, December 3, 2018

Not Another Christmas Letter!—Portland Musical Theater Company—N. Portland



          Reflections
    These true-to-life musical snippets, from Christmas moments, are written and arranged by Paul Cozby and Laura Bergquist and directed and produced by Deanna Maio.  It is playing at the Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge (upstairs), 4834 N. Lombard St., through December 23rd.  For more information, go to their site at www.portlandmusicaltheater.org

    The authors have certainly peeked in on my, and some friends, Christmas memories, over the years, as they are about as true as you can get.  They encompass the entire range of feelings, I believe, from sending (and getting) those impersonal, typed Christmas letters to, losing a loved one, to buying for a loved one and kids being too-informed in this day and age.

    But, personally, I miss the Christmas’s that never were for me, those of my grand-parent’s days, as pictured in Capote’s, “A Christmas Memory,” or “The Walton’s Christmas.”  Somehow, the simpler times, those that just relied on home-made dinners and decorations and presents, and family and neighbors.  But, gone are the days, I suppose, but also missing, I believe, is the True Spirit of Giving from the Heart.  A Christmas memory I never realized, perhaps, but oddly missed.

    Here, an ensemble cast of four (Chris Bartell, Bronwyn Baz, Jeff Donaldson-Forbes and Carissa Zubricky), playing about 40 roles, recreate short scenes of Christmas preparations across the Nation.  The scenes and songs encompass putting a positive spins on one’s impersonal Christmas letters; dealing with Black Friday, long lines and sold-out items; a clever duet by the men, trying to find just “the right present” for that special lady; and a hauntingly delivered moment by Zubricky about being single on such a holiday.

    Also, of course, there are those agonizing, infamous Christmas Family Portraits that we all had to sit through; memories of Christmas’s Past, touching song by Donaldson-Forbes, after a loved one has recently passed; an amusing duet-duel by the ladies, of dealing with in-laws during this family season; and a not-so-friendly competitions with the neighbors over outside Christmas decorations.

    And, who can forget the 12 days of Christmas, with a modern twist; what would happen if Christmas trees could talk about their experiences over the years; when kids become so educated that such classics as “Twas the Night…” comes under scrutiny; and those horrible assemblies of toys with thousands of parts; and reflecting on Christmas Eves, as the ending of the Season.  And then it begins all over again for the next year…. 

    All of which performed by some very talented singers/actors.  And Maio has, as always, a keen ear and eye in choosing material and casts, as she does here.  She has deliberately not picked a traditional Christmas story that has been done to death, so see this one, as it’s a West Coast Premiere, and expand your Christmas tradition a bit, it’ll be worth it!

    A side note, this might spur you to reflect yourself on your own memories and habits during this Season.  It did make me think, as mine are of Christmas’s that never were (long story…but I don’t remember the first 10 years of my life) and so I live my Christmas memories vicariously…and so, became a writer (of sorts) in which one can create their own realities as a storyteller.  Not a bad trade-off, I believe.  What’s your story(ies)…?!

    I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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