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Review: THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD AND THEN SOME at TALLGRASS THEATRE COMPANY

Celebrate the season and the celebrate a theatre reopening through December 19

Review: THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD AND THEN SOME at TALLGRASS THEATRE COMPANY
Dan Haymes
Eric Olson
Sarah Gamblin

A Theatre finds out that they will no longer be able to use the space they perform. As they are going into tech week for one of their final shows in their former home, a pandemic hit, causing the production to be shut down and ultimately canceled. Over the next year and a half, the community gets behind said theatre company and helps with raising funds, finding a new building, and building a new theatre in the space, and it is able to be opened right in time for the holidays. Sounds like something out of a holiday movie. So it's fitting that as Tallgrass Theatre opens their doors at their new home theatre, they start by presenting a holiday classic. They are being a little more ambitious than that. They are opening their new theatre location with "Every Christmas Story Ever Told, and Then Some." This production will have you laughing from the top of the show and leaving ready to celebrate the holidays.

"Every Christmas Story Ever Told and Then Some" by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, and John K Alvarez tells the story of three actors, we'll call them Sarah, Dan, and Eric, who present a performance of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol." As the production begins, they start discussing what the seminal Christmas classic is. As they discuss this, they realize that Christmas means something different to everyone and set out to present not just one but also all the Christmas stories. Are they able to succeed? You'll have to attend the show to find that out.

Walking into the theatre, you may not realize that the show is already beginning around you as Tallgrass' Seedlings improv troop comes out into the lobby as some of the street children from "A Christmas Carol." It was fun seeing the students interact with the audience, and I enjoyed how they interacted at times with the cast of the show.

This continues as you head into Tallgrass's new theatre. As you head into the theatre, you walk into a room that screams of all things Christmas. The set, beautifully designed by Ronnie Wells, consists of two buildings representing Scrooge's story, which reminded me of some of the best live productions of "A Christmas Carol." The front of the stage is decorated with two gorgeous trees and large presents on both sides. The entire set is adorned with green, red, and gold, pulling you into the holiday spirit. These colors carry into Ty Klobassa's lighting design, which can be seen on stage, and at the back of the stage on the scrim.

The show under the direction of Thomas D. Perrine feels like a celebration of its own. It celebrates what Tallgrass offers to its audiences with the Seedlings, celebrates the use of a new space by bringing the audience into the performance, and celebrates the strengths each of the actors brings to the show. It speaks to him as a director that all of this could be achieved in 5 weeks. It makes me excited to see what else Tallgrass can accomplish now that they are in their own space.

The cast consists of Dan Haymes and Eric Olson, who have been seen on stages around the Des Moines community, and introduces Sarah Gamblin to the Des Moines community. The chemistry within the cast made it feel as though they had been working together for years and could understand how they could get tired of playing the same roles every year. I wasn't expecting the amount of physical comedy each of them brought to the characters through the night.

When you get to the theatre to see this show, make sure you take some time in the lobby to look at the photos on display. The photos will be a walk down memory lane for those familiar with Tallgrass. If you are new, they will give you a look at the fantastic history of shows this theatre company has produced.

Whether you are looking for a fun, relaxing evening of theatre, or want to kick off the celebration of the holidays, then "Every Christmas Story Ever Told and Then Some" will be the perfect evening for you. Not only will this kick of celebrating the holidays, but it is the perfect celebration of a theatre reopening in their new home. Tallgrass Theatre Company's production continues for a limited time through December 19. To find out more about the show, or to purchase tickets, visit https://tallgrasstheatre.org/



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