It’s a Christmas miracle, of the theatrical kind.
Such was my thought as I watched “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some),” which debuted over the weekend at Gamut Theatre.
In this show, the audience experiences all of its favorite Christmas characters and themes in one, two-hour frenzy: the Grinch, Frosty, a certain green-nosed reindeer (yes, green not red), all in a delightful romp in a play by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez.
The Gamut production features a cast of three players (core company members Clark Nicholson, Melissa Nicholson and Thomas Weaver), who bring to life everyone’s favorite Christmas stories, songs and traditions.
With minimal set pieces and few costume changes, the acting is what really shines. The facial expressions, postures, accents and voice inflections go a long way when switching between all of the many different characters. Comedic timing is key, and this trio nails it.
The play begins with the actors set to perform the classic Charles Dickens tale, “A Christmas Carol.” Poor Thomas is eager to give the performance everything he’s got, but Clark and Melissa are not having it. They eventually convince him to abandon all Dickens, which is when the real fun begins.
The enthusiasm and energy from the cast and audience will lift your spirits, leave a song in your heart, and melt away your stress. The contemporary jokes, fruitcake-themed game show, holiday spoofs and pop culture references offer consistent laughs.
One of my personal favorite “beloved holiday classics” (referred to as “BHCs” in the show) is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” So, I enjoyed watching Melissa and Thomas dance around the stage with alternating feet and arm motions just like Sally and Linus.
The costumes were delightfully appropriate, as Melissa wore an ugly Christmas vest with tinsel, and Clark was dressed to the nines in a Christmas tree suit jacket.
But the fun didn’t stop there. In between skits, the intrepid trio found time to read to the audience, providing insight into Christmas traditions around the world.
Despite everything going on, Thomas persists in his quest to perform his favorite BHC,“A Christmas Carol.” Does he get what he wants? A slight twist in his plan results in a mash-up of two Christmas classics, which is not to be missed.
Younger kids will enjoy the high-energy shenanigans but will not understand all of the references, which, like many holiday programs and shows, conceal winks and nods to adults.
As a special holiday treat, Gamut Theatre presents “Cabaret Carols,” which features a different talented singer each night before the show. Enjoy live music with a cup of Christmas cheer before the show. Then sit back, relax, and laugh the night away.
“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” runs through Dec. 23 at Gamut Theatre, 15 N. 4th St., Harrisburg. For more information and tickets, call 717-238-4111 or visit www.gamuttheatre.org.