The Prospect Playhouse Theatre has a delightful production running on stage this weekend, titled “A Playhouse Family Christmas.” If you’ve been finding it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit, then this is just the tonic you need to have you singing “Jingle Bells” all the way home.
Written, created and directed by veteran stage performer, Sue Howe, the show follows an evening in the home of Grizz and Frizz – cat and mouse roommates – where Grizz, played by Gabrielle Wheaton, simply wishes to have a quiet night, reading the paper and curling up with a drink, but Frizz, played by Howe, has other plans. (I should mention here that Gabrielle is my sister, who probably found method acting relatively easy for this part, considering how many cats I have). It isn’t long before carolers are dropping by unannounced, determined to pull Grizz out of his chair and into the spirit of Christmas.
On the evening that I attended, the theater was nearly full, and had lots of families in the audience. Many of them were sporting Santa hats, or wearing other festive garb, adornments that are encouraged by the cast. There was also mulled wine available for purchase at the theater bar, in a foyer decorated with Christmas ornaments, highlighted by tables sporting wee winter villages.
The show features many favorite seasonal tunes, from Let It Snow to Santa Baby and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The audience is encouraged to join in on many of the numbers, and don’t worry if you don’t know the words – there are always helpful elves on stage holding up cue cards. It’s like old school karaoke.
One of the most magical moments in the evening is at the opening of the second act – the stage set may be simple, but it’s very effective, and there was a collective gasp from those around me, as three “angels” began singing Silent Night from a rooftop. Neil Rooney and his daughter Isabella also do a beautiful job of singing The Prayer in harmony, one of the few slower tempo numbers in the night.
It was almost as entertaining watching the children surrounding my seat as it was to watch the production. They were enraptured by the set, characters and music, and when Santa made the first of many appearances, they really paid attention. Ahhh … how lovely to be young.
As the show progresses, Grizz begins to warm to the idea of having unexpected visitors in his home, and even reads a poem by A.A. Milne, visually assisted by Adam Stoner in the character of King John. By the end of the night, Grizz is well in the spirit, as is everyone else, which was Howe’s goal when she originally decided to create the show.
“I wanted to bring a bit of the spirit of Christmas to the community through the theater,” she says. “It’s been a long time since the Cayman Drama Society produced a show specifically about Christmas for families, and we’ve had a terrific response from everyone – both kids and adults.
“It’s all thanks to the amazing amount of help I had from a fun-loving and hardworking cast and crew.”
The show clocks in at a very neat 1 hour 30 minutes, and that’s including a 20 minute intermission, so it’s perfect for all ages. Children won’t get antsy, and adults won’t have to commit to a full night at this busy time of year.
“A Playhouse Family Christmas” only has three performances left, so you’ll want to book your seats now. Definitely take the kids along, and get the Christmas hats out to wear. This is a wonderful way to truly start your holiday season.
Remaining shows are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Call the box office at 938-1998 or book online at cds.ky.