BWW Review: A GOOD OLD FASHIONED REDNECK COUNTRY CHRISTMAS at Connecticut Cabaret Theatre
Hey y'all! On November 30, I had the pleasure of seeing my favorite Connecticut Cabaret Theatre show of 2019, which is my outright favorite live comedy I have seen in 2019, A GOOD OLD FASHIONED REDNECK COUNTRY CHRISTMAS! This comedy by Kristine Bauske had this packed theatre laughing all throughout the show. Director Kris McMurray has found a stellar cast featuring many Connecticut Cabaret Theatre favorites, and continues to bring out the best in them all. Every actor and actress in this production does so well that it feels like they truly have become their character on stage, something particularly impressive among cast members who we have previously seen also excel in other roles, some that are very different from these roles.
Technical designer James J. Moran has created a very elaborate moving set that is efficiently and meticulously changed during the lights down scene changes while the audience is entertained by redneck songs. The opening scene takes place inside a diner, complete with a counter and phone. After the first major scene change, it takes place inside a hunting cabin in the mountains, complete with the mounted buck head, and rifle on the wall. Another scene change brings the set outside of an animal shed in the mountains. The story takes place on a snowy Christmas Eve and employs effective use of artificial snow and wind storm sounds, effectively helping create the ambiance.
Dave Wall is spectacular at helping set the story's tone as a first-person narrator in the role of Bob, a customer at the diner. He also shows his guitar skills in a full cast performance of the first verse of Silent Night.
Karen Gagliardi shines as Lou Wexler, the owner of the diner. Lou is a married woman with no children, but a strong desire to adopt. Also working in the diner is Barbie Jo Fox, who is convincingly portrayed by Jennifer Nadeau. Barbie Jo is married with children, but deals with the conflict of having a mother who disapproves of her husband, which in turn makes her husband want to spend some time away from the family, on Christmas Eve. Also working in the diner is a younger woman named Darlene who is magnificently portrayed by Tracey Brown. While Tracey Brown has been wonderful in every role she has portrayed, across various shows of different genres at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, this role of Darlene is my favorite of all her characters. Darlene has hilarious one-liners, and spontaneously bursts into song, all with a heavy southern drawl, perfectly delivered by Tracey Brown. Darlene believes strongly that her boyfriend will soon propose. The stage chemistry is tight between Karen Gagliardi, Jennifer Nadeau, and Tracey Brown, creating a genuine feeling of three women working together in a diner, while sharing the details of their lives.
At the hunting cabin, we find Bill Wexler (Lou's husband). Dave Fox (Barbie Jo's husband), and Jimmy (Darlene's boyfriend) who are fantastically portrayed by Russell Fish, Chris Brooks, and Rick Bennett, respectively, three incredibly talented actors who have strong stage chemistry with each other, including during a few minor physical scuffles on stage between Dave and Jimmy, requiring Bill to get in the middle to prevent the conflicts from escalating. Their verbal banter is also highly entertaining. Spending time away from the women in their lives, they run the risk of being snowed in at the cabin, on Christmas Eve, which is not their ultimate goal, despite desiring some time away from their women.
James J. Moran steals the show as Mark, a high-strung regular patron of the diner. Mark's mannerisms and way of speaking, brilliantly delivered by James J. Moran, truly make Mark a comically intense character, highlighted by the one word line, "Gollllllllly," a line delivered so well that it is nearly impossible for any audience member to keep a straight face at that moment.
Mary Sue Bobbie Jo Lou Archer, a nearly nine month pregnant homeless teenager who enters the diner to get warm is excellently portrayed by Maria Pompile, a moving performance that makes the audience want to reach out and help Mary Sue Bobbie Jo Lou Archer. After the smoke alarm in the diner goes off, Mary Sue Bobbie Jo Lou Archer slips out of the diner. Mark spearheads the search to find Mary Sue Bobbie Jo Lou Archer and finds her, right as she goes into labor. In the storm, without access to a vehicle, Mark carries her to the animal shed. Bill, Dave, and Jimmy soon arrive, which references the magi (three wise men.)
Will Mary Sue Bobbie Jo Lou Archer find a place to stay and a place to work, after the baby is born? Will Jimmy ask Darlene to marry him? Will Bill and Lou have an honest conversation in which Bill expresses how Lou's seeming obsession with adopting a baby is really making him feel? Will Dave want to spend more time with his family? Will any of the men fancy himself as romantic if he decides to buy his wife earrings that double as fishing lures? Come to the show and find out!
Without giving away what happens, Bob as the narrator reverently credits God for the way He works things together to make these events that can seem like miracles happen. The cast also joyfully proclaims, "Merry Christmas!" to the audience, something refreshing to hear. Ultimately, love and family are extolled in this show, as are boldness, generosity, proactively striving to meet the needs of others, and having faith and trust in God and His goodness.
Whether you are a world traveler or whether the biggest city you've ever been to is the Walmart, I highly recommend y'all come out to Berlin, CT, to see A GOOD OLD FASHIONED REDNECK COUNTRY CHRISTMAS which is scheduled to continue to run at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin, CT, through December 21, 2019, every Friday and Saturday night at 10:00 P.M. For tickets, please call the box office at 860-829-1248. Bring your belt buckle if you need to show I.D. Whether you are a college graduate, or whether you refer to fifth grade as "my senior year," there is something in this show for you.
I am also looking forward to the sequel, A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Wedding which the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre plans to run this coming April 3 through May 2, with the same main cast members, and during a time of the year when the true rednecks will stand out. (They'll be the only ones whose Christmas lights will still be up.) I'm a-fixin' to believe that with the success and popularity of A GOOD OLD FASHIONED REDNECK COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, the tickets for the sequel will also sell quickly, so I recommend booking yours as soon as possible