Winter Park Playhouse
By Roger Bean
Musical Arrangements by Brian Baker
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park, FL
Times are tough all over, and in midcentury small-town America, things could be brutal. Tonight, we visit the holiday party at Harpers Hardware, and four of the employees prepare to do their heartwarming holiday show in color coded dresses. There’s bad girl Cindy Lou (Caitlan Doak,) the deeply in love Missy (Lea Marinelli,) the silly Suzy (Lindsay Nantz) and still somewhat married Betty Jean (Kate Zaloumes). This show is set so far in the past the hardware store actually has knowledgeable people who can help you, and even build the set for the show. But the gimmick here is an oddball; as a gag the storeowner (Mr. Unseen) gives everyone fake layoff notices. How 1983! It’s a great gag, but enough about the device. What about the results?
The happy holiday favorites are all here from the rockabilly “Rockin’ Christmas Medley” to traditional faves including “Oh, Tannenbaum” and “Santa Baby” and “Run, Rudolf, Run.” But there’s some fun obscurities like “Man With The Bag” and “Mele Kalikimaka” and “All those Christmas Clichés.” I loved the “Chipmunk Cheer,” all the high schools in WPPH shows have very small gnawing animals as mascots. Cute, so long as they don’t set up camp in your attic. “We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo” was promising, although with no on-stage Santa we are left to our imagination, and I don’t advise thinking about it too hard. Of course, this is all for fun, and it takes a weird concept and bends it into a show just traditional enough to satisfy the traditionalist, but odd enough to keep the professional scrooges happy as well. Aloha.