BWW Review: Once Again, A CHRISTMAS MEMORY/WINTER SONG Offers a Moment of Calm (and Cookies) in the Eye of the Holiday Storm, at Portland Center Stage
Winter is a crazy time of year -- when so many things pull us in opposite directions. Snow is beautiful when you're sitting inside watching it fall, but awful when you're out driving in it. Christmas shopping is horrible, but finding that perfect gift for someone you love is so satisfying! Family gatherings are wonderful and stressful...and wonderful...and stressful. A CHRISTMAS MEMORY/WINTER SONG, now in its second year at Portland Center Stage, makes room for all of these emotions. I loved it last year, and I loved it again this year.
This show, conceived and performed by local talents Merideth Kaye Clark and Brandon Woolley, isn't a play -- it's an evening of stories and songs about the season and all of its complexities. In the first half, Leif Norby tells Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," a tearjerker of a story about Christmases past and loved ones no longer with us.
The second half is a collection of music and stories -- some from the performers, some from the audience -- about the feelings of winter. There are a few Christmas carols (mostly instrumental), but most of the songs are about the idea of home (e.g., Paul Simon's "Homeward Bound," Steve Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home").
Whereas TWIST YOUR DICKENS, playing on PCS's main stage, is loud and raucous, A CHRISTMAS MEMORY/WINTER SONG is quiet and thoughtful -- a 90-minute break from the hecticity, when you can take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy some beautiful music while contemplating the joy and sorrow that come hand in hand during this season. Also, there are free fresh-baked cookies -- all you have to do is come up with one thing you like about winter.
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY/WINTER SONG runs through December 30. I recommend it very highly. More details and tickets here.
When you go, be sure to take an extra $20 to buy the WINTER SONG CD, which was just released thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/blankeye