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BWW Review: Creativity and Kindness Abound in Nashville Children's Theatre's THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER


NCT's Latest World Premiere Runs Through December 19

BWW Review: Creativity and Kindness Abound in Nashville Children's Theatre's THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER
Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva and Jonah Jackson in The Elves and The Shoemaker

Amidst all the holiday hubbub, when even the preparations to celebrate often prove unwieldy and insurmountable, sometimes the real meaning of Christmas may be lost, leaving us confused and befuddled in regard to what it's really all about. In fact, we may need to be reminded that the season should be centered on the personal, its meaning found in our heart.

What better way then to kick off your own seasonal schedule of happenings and events than a return - for a timely reminder about what the holiday season should be about - to Nashville Children's Theatre for their colorful and entertaining adaptation of The Elves and the Shoemaker?

As part of NCT's historic 90th birthday year, The Elves and the Shoemaker is onstage - both literally and figuratively - through December 19, as audience members find themselves seated on the stage in the midst of the action as two wonderfully talented and graciously welcoming actors relate a story that would be relevant at any time of year, but which seems particularly prescient as indulge in the end-of-year holiday traditions.

Inspired by a Grimm Brothers story, adapted by executive artistic director Ernie Nolan for its world premiere engagement, The Elves and the Shoemaker focuses on the footwear couture of Freida Schuhwerk and the magical happenings that transpire every evening in the workrooms of her Bavarian atelier. With a decidedly contemporary attitude that ensures the play is fun for audiences regardless of their age (it's recommended for theater aficionados four and up) and featuring Nolan's trademark wit and zestful storytelling talents and the music and lyrics of David Weinstein, The Elves and the Shoemaker packs a lot into its scant 50 minutes of performance time.

Offering harried parents a lovely opportunity to impart some Christmastime wisdom to their children while finding a moment in which they can breathe, collect their thoughts and enjoy the show themselves, The Elves and the Shoemaker is certain to captivate younger theater-goers who will be engaged by the story's simple, yet highly impactful, lessons on the importance of treating one another with kindness and deference.

Creatively directed by Abe Reybold, who also choreographs, The Elves and the Shoemaker allows Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva and Jonah Jackson to bring their characters to life with warmth and good humor, inspiring imaginations young and old to soar and their collective creativity to kick into high gear, reminding viewers that any act of kindness - no matter how small or how large, whether seemingly minor or potentially major it may be - can set off ripples of reactions and responses to underscore the true meaning of the holiday season.

The pair of seasoned actors are in full control of the situation as they play a supervisor in the workroom and "Trainee #00617," respectively portrayed by Whitcomb-Oliva and Jackson, who show off their versatility with a range of talents guaranteed to hold their young charges in their thrall. Watching children respond to the actors remains one of the joys of witnessing theater at NCT, and Reybold and his actors do a splendid job.

BWW Review: Creativity and Kindness Abound in Nashville Children's Theatre's THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER Scott Leathers provides the gorgeously appointed set, what with its myriad surprises and special effects, lighting it to perfection, while Renee Sola designs the lederhosen worn by Mr. Jackson, as well as Ms. Whitcomb-Oliva's fashionable dirndl. In fact, you'll feel an urge to have some apfelstrudel, schnitzel and spaetzle on the way home, so pervasive is the atmosphere created on the stage.

The Elves and the Shoemaker. Adapted by Ernie Nolan. Music and lyrics by David Weinstein. Directed and choreographed by Abe Reybold. Stage managed by Rachael Silverman. Presented by Nashville Children's Theatre. Through December 19. Running time: 50 minutes, with no intermission.

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