Mestey Films Productions A Magical ChristmasBy Laura & Mike Clark • Dec 1st, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Mestey Films Productions
Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA
Through December 22nd
55 minutes, including intermission
Reviewed December 1st, 2012
A Magical Christmas by playwright Vianlix Mestey tells the story of the small town of Believe, Maine who has not had a visit from Santa in ten years. When Gabriel Holiday and his granddaughter Joy arrive in Believe, they are amazed and deeply saddened by the news that not only is there no Christmas in Believe, but the mere mention of anything having to do with Christmas results in a ticket which the Mayor seems more than willing to give out. This show has a nice traditional Christmas holiday theme, but with some writing gaps and severe pacing and memorization issues this production was rough.
Steve Izant as Gabriel Holiday, kindly grandfather, served as the narrator. He attempted to explain the predicament he found when he and his granddaughter moved to Believe, Maine (population 312). The audience, made up of children age five and up, took a while to warm up. Perhaps their parents told them not to talk during the show, resulting in a few awkward silences when Holiday asked questions, as the audience was not sure what to do. Izant seemed to relate comfortably with the other actors. In the story Holiday used the phrases “jingle” and “bells” to indicate going forward and backward in time as he told the story. The lighting and sound effects of the time changes were fine, but I’m not sure the intended audience really understood the time changes. Why was the flashback aspect needed at all in this story? The story could have been told as at traditional play, with the action moving forward.
Granddaughter Joy played by Vianlix-Christine Schneider was believable in her character and had a nice voice for her solo. Both Melody (Mary Jane Fogerty McQuade) and Jack the Baker (David A. Schmidt) had some “dramatic pauses” which interrupted the flow of the performance. There were times Schmidt upstaged the action going on and had his back or profile to the audience. Both he and McQuade need to cheat out more so the audience can observe their strong use of emotions and share in the laughter of their shock, anger, and surprise at the story’s finale. The Mayor was also a strong character, performed ably by Ariel Gonzalez. He and Joy danced together fairly well. It was a shame that he didn’t know all the lyrics to “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” as it would have been stronger to not even try to sing along with the recording, but to stay focused on the hanging of the decorations during the song and the dance.
Set Designer David A. Schmidt created a colorful set, of four different small town shops. (Apparently Motel Komzoil settled in Maine after leaving Anatevka.) Joey Wallen and Scott A. Schneider’s light design was adequate, mostly the lights that were used for the time shifts. Vianlix Mestey served as the show’s playwright, producer, director and costume designer. She may have tried to do too much too quickly, as the script wasn’t quite fully developed. Hopefully her future scripts can be workshopped or performed as a staged reading before moving forward with a full production.
A Magical Christmas ran fifty-five minutes, including a twelve minute intermission, putting this show in the running for this year’s “Most Gratuitous Intermission Award.” It was hard to hear the actors over the sound of chips crunching and bags rustling during the second act. The show’s weak script and pacing problems made it hard to believe in Believe, Maine.
- Steve Izant: Gabriel Holiday
- Vianlix-Christine Schneider: Joy
- David A. Schmidt: Jack the Baker
- Mary Jane Fogerty McQuade: Melody
- Ariel Gonzalez: The Mayor
- Producer/Director: Vanlix Mestey
- Set Designer: David A. Schmidt
- Playwright: Vanlix Mestey
- Lighting Designer: Joey Wallen, Scott A. Schneider
- Costume Designer: Vanlix Mestey
- Technical Director: Scott A. Schneider
- Show Control Designer: Scott Schneider
Disclaimer: Workhouse Arts Center provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. Mike is an instructor at the Workhouse Arts Center, which did not affect this article.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8883.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.