BWW Review: A VERY HAIRY JAVELINA HOLIDAY at Childsplay Theatre
A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday has been in workshop for several years, and made its official debut at Childsplay Theatre this winter. With book and lyrics by Jenny Millinger, music by Todd Hulet, and based on the books by Susan Lowell, A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday is a family-fun treasure appropriate for all audiences.
The musical centers around the idea of family and tradition. Three javelina siblings José, Juan, and Josefina are ready for Christmas Time, prepped and ready with their usual holiday traditions. However, their cousin Angelina shows up intent on bonding, and decides to jazz up their festivities, leading to uncomfortable tension between the family members.
José, played by Vinny Chavez, is a rowdy cowboy javelina who desperately wants it to snow in the desert. Chavez has obvious fun in the role as the more free-spirited brother, his character armed with purposely unfunny puns and one-liners. Rudy Ramirez portrays Juan, the more uptight member of the family, whose type-A personality is prevalent in every action, particularly in his desire to bake the perfect Christmas cookie. Josefina, played by Chelsea Soto, wants nothing more than to dance the "Sugar Plum Hairy," and to shine on stage. Soto perfectly embodies Josefina's longing and her desire to dance.
The javelina siblings' plans are somewhat foiled when Cousin Angelina, played by Rhetta Mykeal, is more than eager to participate in the Christmas festivities, and messes up what the siblings originally had in mind. Mykeal's energy is contagious, and pairs well with the mischievous Coyote, played by Katie McFadzen, and the wise Caruso, played by Jon Gentry.
Dwayne Hartford's direction allows for a fun, light-hearted musical full of lessons learned and positive energy. Music director Todd Hulet and choreographer Molly Lajoie further reinforce the strength of the musical through their respective talents. Holly Windingstad's scenic design looks traditionally southwestern, and sets the landscape perfectly for the musical. D. Daniel Hollingshead's costume and wig design add fun elements, and Paul Black's lighting design strongly contributes to the varying emotions within the show.
Although this is a show geared towards an audience of children, the music and performance never feels subpar. It is a show legitimately enjoyable for all ages, and will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.
A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday continues its run at Tempe Center for the Arts through December 24. Tickets can be purchased at www.childsplayaz.org or by calling the Tempe Center for the Arts Box Office at 480-350-2822.
Photo credit: Tim Trumble