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Review: EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD at Castle Craig Players

Review: EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD at Castle Craig Players

The production runs through December 11, 2022

On Saturday, December 3, 2022, I had the pleasure of seeing EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD, which is easily the funniest stage comedy I have seen in the last three years! It is yet another first-rate Christmas comedy production performed by the Castle Craig Players at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse in Meriden, CT. EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD is a hilarious satirical farce written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez. It is brilliantly directed by Bobby and Carleigh Schultz. It stars the highly talented trio of Chris Brooks, Rick Bennett, and Bobby Schultz.

The close real life friendship of the three actors is evident in their tight chemistry and stage dynamics as they all play themselves as actors in a play within a play. It is evident that all three actors are having a lot of fun on stage, providing positive energy that radiates throughout this highly entertained packed house audience. These actors are the perfect three actors for these roles. The set is essentially a stage set with places for entrance and exits towards the left, the right, and in the middle. The fourth wall is completely broken, even to the point where there are two different instances of an audience member being called up onto the stage, a different audience member each time. During one scene, Christmas lights light up on both sides of the stage.

While it is not a musical in the strictest sense, there are numerous musical vocal moments performed by the actors and numerous dance numbers choreographed by Chelsea Flannigan. The songs and dance enhance the quality of the production.

The story starts with Chris wanting to perform A Christmas Carol while Bobby and Rick want to perform something more original. They break the fourth wall to get requests from the audience, and then plan to perform multiple short satirical adaptations of other well-known Christmas stories. Beyond A Christmas Carol, they also spoof such Christmas classics as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Nutcracker, and It's a Wonderful Life. They also include a spoof of the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and a rigged game show. Between spoofs, they also tell farcical stories of ways that Christmas is celebrated in various countries.

Beyond the comedic, often slap-stick acting, as well as the singing and dancing, the actors also do a phenomenal job impersonating voices and movements. Rick Bennett is spot on with his Ed Wynn vocal impersonation as the Charlie in the Box, as well as his movements as the Charlie in the Box. He also nails the voices of the boss elf and Yukon Cornelius. Bobby Schultz does an excellent imitation of a Macy's Thanksgiving parade balloon. Chris Brooks does a believable Australian accent. When Chris Brooks and Bobby Shultz converse as George Bailey and Mr. Potter, respectively, they sound just like the original actors. During the Charlie Brown dancing scene, they all dance just like the characters in the Charlie Brown play.

It is also a very nice touch that the Linus "lights please" Luke 2 scene is included and done reverently, reminding everyone of the Reason for the season amidst the comedy.

During the game show scene, the important deep philosophical question, "What is the difference between a horse?" comes up. They also analyze the statistics behind all that Santa Claus accomplishes. They give the audience member called up an opportunity to answer whether she believes in Santa Claus. They address that differences in time zones still don't account for all that Santa Claus does, but don't mention the key detail that time zones are based largely on lines of longitude and that all lines of longitude meet at the North Pole, therefore allowing Santa Claus to simultaneously be in every time zone, which would also naturally give him the charism of bilocation, therefore making what he does scientifically possible.

The second act is the juxtaposition of A Christmas Carol with It's a Wonderful Life, merging the characters of Ebenezer Scrooge with George Bailey in a mind-blowing remarkable way that totally works in a satirical genius manner.

I highly recommend EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD, which is scheduled to run through December 11, 2022. While the consistent high quality of Castle Craig Players productions leads to tickets selling quickly and shows often selling out, if tickets should become available, you can purchase them at https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2212779®id=60&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fcastlecraigplayers.org%2Ftickets%2F?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1.



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