BWW Review: IS JACK FROST NIPPING AT YOUR HOSE? OR..CHRISTMAS AT THE FIRESHOUSE! at Mosley Street Melodrama
To conclude their 2019 season, Mosley Street Melodrama proudly presents Is Jack Frost Nipping at Your Hose? Or..Christmas at the Firehouse! Written and directed by Tom Frye with assistance from Steve Hitchcock, the show runs from November 15th-December 28th at 234 N. Mosley.
The show, like the majority of the company's melodramas, had little to no plot which many of the actors seemed to note with a good sense of humor. Despite the lack of narrative arc, however, rest assured the performers took what they were given and completely committed to their characters and delivery making their performance totally believable to watch with familiar jokes about junior college, Eastborough tickets, et al. The main conflict in the story was that the hero Sparky Ember also played by Hitchcock was out for a promotion as the new fire chief for the city. But the villain Pyro Maniac (John Keckeisen) attempted to make certain to foil any sort of advancement in order to look out for himself and his own individual interests. Keckeisen was great fun especially when interacting with an audience member, a gentleman the night I attended, informing him to yell and scream and run around the stage every time he took off his fire helmet only to have that planned foiled as well at every turn since the audience member couldn't quite figure out the proper moment to execute the comedy with Keckeisen only to exclaim 'Not now!' Julia Faust was sexy and sultry as usual as the vamp who assisted Keckeisen as Ashely Soot. Her most shining moment didn't come until the end of the olio when she sang a 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer' re-write song with riffs and concert lighting done by stage manager Anna Rosell who also added in sound cues of sirens throughout the production. On Thursdays and Saturday afternoons in December, you can catch Faust's understudy Shannon McMillan in the same role.
Jaslyn Alexander fills the shoes as heroine quite nicely, having appeared last summer in MTWichita's South Pacific in Concert with the Wichita Symphony as Liat. She shows her love interest in an always tantalizing and mesmerizing tongue kiss centerstage with Hitchcock that you can't help but watch through peeping hands over your eyes. Hitchcock doesn't get to quite show off his French dialect resume in this production but does stand out towards the beginning when he and Alexander get the idea to save a baby from a burning apartment building. The two decide it would be best to lower the baby upside down out the window dangled by a simple string making the presentation visually hilarious. But the actress who stole the entire show for this one was Briley Meek who not only plays one character but four in total, particularly the mentioned woman who is trapped in the apartment fire with her baby and eventually gets saved herself by jumping out the window. At first in this scene, Meek skipped dialogue stopping the confused actors. She then saves her flub getting the script back on track with smart improv. Throughout, she was devoted to all of her characters as Lester, Woman, Pyro's Mother and Mayor 'Shortwell' making such comments on the newly chosen Wichita Baseball team the Wichita Wind Surge and informing the ladies and some select gentlemen that most of the cute doctors in residency practice at the Wesley P.A. on Kellogg.
For the second half of the program was Comin' Down the Chimney Musical Comedy Revue opening with the carol 'Sleigh Ride.' Costumes by Faust and Monte Wheeler were striking and festive with deep reds and plaid patterns. Choreography by Hitchcock was regional theatre worthy having various turns and box steps to each 'ding-dong' lyric of the treasured carol song. And the cast members all sang beautifully too! For starters, Alexander sang 'Mrs. Claus' by Little Jackie perfectly with great belt. Meek sang the Stevie Wonder classic 'What Christmas Means to Me' catching up to Alexander's abilities just fine. Later, Faust and Alexander have a duet to Mariah Carey's version of 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).' Their duet alone is thrilling to watch as each has a pseudo vocal battle on stage that ends up with a tie in strong soprano belt unison sound. Collectively, the ensemble sounds wonderful together particularly in a choral section of rich, blended harmony for a portion of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' under musical direction of Tony Harshbarger. Lighting design by Rosell in this section is also worth noting. There was even audience participation as well that resulted in a reindeer ring toss with Hitchcock jogging about the stage as a moving target leading into a holiday mascot support group with overworked Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and the greedy Grinch with low testosterone and kleptomaniac tendencies. The true artistic brilliance, however, comes at the end from set designers Dan Johnson and owner Monte Wheeler. Be sure to pay attention and not miss a single moment of this surprising domino train assuring Christmas magic is here again.
Is Jack Frost Nipping at Your Hose? Or...Christmas at the Firehouse runs every Wednseday through Sunday with some select matinees on Saturday. For tickets, call 316.263.0222 or visiting mosleystreet.com. You also want to make sure not to miss their annual Rockin' & Ringin' New Year's Eve Spectacular which will be ringing in the new year in true 2020 style.
John Keckeisen (Pyro Maniac) and Julia Faust (Ashley Soot) in Mosley Street Melodrama's Is Jack Frost Nipping at Your Hose? Or..Christmas at the Firehouse!
The cast of Comin' Down the Chimney Musical Comedy Revue at Mosley Street Melodrama. Costumes by Julia Faust and Monte Wheeler.