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Melodrama Holiday Extravaganza

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2007

By: Dave Retz (Expired article)

Oceano, CA -

The Great American Melodrama has hit a season home run with its production of the "Holiday Extravaganza". Located only 50 minutes north of Solvang in Oceano, this production is a Holiday must-see for Valley Residents. Photo credits: Gary Adams

Presented as three separate parts, the Extravaganza includes: A dramatic production of Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, "A Christmas Carol"; a comic operetta combining "Hansel and Gretel" and "Little Red Riding Hood"; and - the Holiday Vaudeville Ensemble - arrangements of Holiday music and dance with a twist.

Featuring several graduate artists from the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts (PCPA), the production of "A Christmas Carol" is superb. Eric Hoit's adaptation of the novel for stage is excellently done, with some scenes that are downright scary, and some that draw tears.

Ebenezer Scrooge - not confined to his bed in this adaptation - is played by Billy Breed (Kiss Me Kate, Urinetown). Dickens' character Scrooge is so descriptive of a miserly and bitter person that his name became well-recognized as a new word in the English language. In the play, Scrooge exemplifies the meaning of the word. (Click on images for an expanded view.)

The entrance of Scrooge's deceased partner from seven years past, Jacob Marley, is amazing: He enters stage center - through the floor - along with smoke, fire, and an adornment of chains from hell. He earned the attention of not only Scrooge, but everyone in the audience, as he pleaded with him to revisit his worldview - then disappeared through the same hole (which seemed to disappear after him).

His predictions, of course, come true at the toll of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd hours - bringing on the well-known ghosts of Christmas past, present, and yet-to-come.

Christmas past, played by Katie Worley (Our Town, Silly Girl, Beauty and the Beast) reminds him of his childhood and his romances as a young man. It leaves open the question as to the source of his bitterness.

The play reflects the original story, with the ghosts of Christmas present and Christmas yet-to-come showing Ebenezer that his life needs to change. An amazing transformation occurs, well-played by his character, as he wakes on Christmas morning to bless his nephew and his assistant's family.

The performance was interrupted mid-stream by an unstoppable applause, after a song by the character Tiny Tim, played by Trinity Anderson, 6 years old (also played by Justin Austin, 5 years old). The play ends, of course, with words from the character of Tiny Tim: "God Bless Us, Everyone!".
The second part of the Holiday Extravaganza is a really funny comedic operetta. What's that? Well, it's an opera - using all the great music lines from hundreds of years ago, combined with lyrics that put you in stitches! Just imagine, taking the operetta of Hansel and Gretel and adding junk food as the enticement for the wicked witch! And, yes ... she's wicked!

But wait, there's more ! Try combining this with the story of Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf. Now we have two "people" out to get the kids. (Forgot to mention: Parents of Hansel and Gretel are kids of what look like Arnold Schwartzenegger and Maria: health food nuts into exercise. We want to pump you up!).

The kids are rebellious teenagers headed for the junk-food forest. The wicked witch has left them a trail of goodies that lead them to the target of a cauldron of ... oops ... kid food. She's about to throw them into the oven when, whoah, BB (short for Big Bad) Wolf arrives. Big Bad Wolf is now in competition for the kids (since he's on a Jenny/Craig diet). BB and Witch are competitors for carnivore food.

Meanwhile, Dad and mom are named Jenny and Craig. Wicked witch is named Sarah Lee (oh, sorry ... Sarah Lee Donner). Best line in the play: "Donner, Party of 1 ? ..."

This performance segment is gut-splitting: funny, and a relief from everyday life.
The third portion of entertainment contains a number of off-the-wall performances. Suppose, for example, you see some Charles Dickens characters singing Christmas carols in a shopping mall. What are they really thinking? Check it out.

A stupendous performance by the Ensemble. The Nutcracker Suite (best choices) on, get this: glasses filled with water. A sugar plum fairie comes down and blesses them with spoons. Four tables of performers do an amazing and splendid job of creating music from nothing but: glasses filled with water. It's incredible as a strange new musical instrument.

Then again, the incredible: reindeer happen, replete with sunglasses and doing the reindeer rap. It must be a new thing, but those reindeer have it.
All in All - This is a wonderful experience for the family. Call 489-2499 for reservations, or go online to DON'T MISS IT THIS YEAR !

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