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BWW Review: STEALING BABY JESUS - A Must See Holiday Event

One woman show STEALING BABY JESUS written and performed by master storyteller Bernadette Nason and directed by Michael Stuart, is an hilarious look at childhood holiday traditions and their sometimes odd translation to our adult lives.
Nason takes the audience on a "walk down misery lane" as she recounts the ghosts of her own Christmas past. Central to the tale is Dickens A CHRISTMAS CAROL, her favorite book, that she carries (her mother's beloved copy) with her around the world as a talisman. Her story begins with the theft of a baby Jesus figurine to replace the one missing from her family's nativity scene at the age of nine, it is both hilarious and touching. Nason then takes us to her Christmas experiences in the Arab world, first in Tripoli, then in Dubai. Her final story of the evening is her experiencing an Austin Christmas full of its crass commercialism. Far from her home in Winchester, England in time and distance Nason recounts her efforts to bake her mother's Christmas cake in an attempt to feel better about a holiday that was rapidly going downhill. It's during story that we feel her longing to return to a simpler time, but laugh at her wit all the same. I was deeply touched by her need to reconnect to her past. NIt was at this point that I had tears rolling down my cheeks.
As adults we all have ingrained visions of how the holiday should be, how it should feel, but rarely is. The message of STEALING BABY JESUS is that Christmas comes from your heart, not from all the bells and whistles we are all so fond of. It's not the baby Jesus in the manger on the shelf that's important, it's the warmth you feel inside when you spend time with your family or friends and are surrounded by love. It's enjoying A CHRISTMAS CAROL read from a tattered book you've had from childhood that brings you joy and peace. It's not getting that expensive electronic gadget or piece of jewelry that you have longed for, it's sharing the love you feel for others. Sometimes it's making your mother's Christmas cake, in Texas, where we don't have metric measuring cups, and making the cake turns out to take 9 hours from start to finish. But it turns out well, because all the pieces of the special cake were packaged and given to friends as gifts. There are no better gifts in this world than handmade ones that come from the heart. I felt a kinship with Bernadette while listening to her this evening, I too know of the struggle to make Christmas perfect, to make the holiday somehow measure up to the Dickens, the Victoria and Albert Christmas of fiction. It's a silly thought and yet we find ourselves striving every December to achieve an impossible dream. As Bernadette advises, it's time to let go of those dreams of perfection that always leave us feeling lacking, look instead inside to the things that warm your heart. I found a new tradition this very evening. I am committing myself to being a one of the rapt listeners next year when Bernadette Nason spins her December tale, be it Scrooge and Marley or Christmas cake or crafting a tree out of cardboard, colored paper and tin foil, I shall be in the audience watching, experiencing and loving every moment of her precious gift to us.
Bernadette Nason is the consummate performer, holding the rapt attention of her audience with effortless ease. A one man, or woman show may seem easy, it is anything but. It takes an enormous amount of talent to make a theatre full of people hang on your every word, Nason does it all with charm, grace and endless wit.
Give yourself the gift of an utterly charming, funny evening with an amazing woman, go see STEALING BABY JESUS and you may just walk out of the theatre fundamentally changed. I know I did.

STEALING BABY JESUS written and performed by Bernadette Nason, Directed by Michael Stuart
Hyde Park Theatre, 411 W 53rd St, Austin
December 7th, 8th, 15th and 16th at 8:00 PM, Sunday December 13th at 2:00PM
RUNNING TIME: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes without intermission.

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From This Author Lynn Beaver