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By John Cramer
Directed by John Cramer
December 3 to 19, 2010
Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography
By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
December 10, 2010
Waukesha Civic Theatre's Christmas offering, "Candy Canes and Holiday Carols," is a more polished version of the same show it presented last year.
A show of this type that engages many participants and encourages young talent is a gift to the community. Mark E. Schuster's set design and Sallie Burkard's rich assemblage of beautiful and colorful costumes, along with the creative direction and authorship of John Cramer and Jacob Sudbrink, is quite the ambitious undertaking. But it's one which has reaped many rewards for an audience of adults and children.
In this two-hour production, there are many Christmas songs and legends. The audience reunites not only Santa, but also with his elves, Frosty, Rudoph, the Abominable Snowman, Scrooge, George Bailey, The Grinch, and the Winter Warlock, to name a few of the familiars.
The tunes are varied, ranging from the lesser known "We're a Couple of Misfits," "Heat Miser" and "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" to the standard "Jingle Bell Medley," "Carol of the Bells" and "Silent Night."
We enjoy the humor of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," the Elvis impression in the Guitar Medley and "I'm Getting' Nuttin' for Christmas," the tight harmonies evident in "Perfect Christmas Night" and "Children Go Where I Send Thee," and the poignancy felt in "Christmas Eve." There is something for every taste and age.
Giving the history of some of the classic tunes and stories was informative. The presence of the abominable snowman and the shrieks of the children also added color to the show.
The many scene changes went smoothly, and the giant illuminated book was a lovely touch. There are too many outstanding contributions to mention them all, but Paul Burkard, Tom Koth, Isaiah Reynolds, Zoe and Jane Klett, and Madeline Keough all were outstanding in their solo work.
This is a wonderful show for all the family to enjoy. I hope many patrons take the opportunity to support all the work and heart that went into it.
By Marilyn Jozwik
Posted: Dec. 7, 2010
Waukesha Civic Theatre's holiday show is remindful of a plate of festively decorated Christmas cookies. - so many choices, one prettier than the next.
WCT's "Candy Cane Tales and Holiday Carols" can do the cookie platter one better - it has zero calories, so you can enjoy it all without feeling guilty!
The show, WCT's holiday offering for the second straight year, was created by creative director John Cramer, who hopes to make it a seasonal tradition.
With a cast of 47, mostly youngsters, the show's "cookies" are renditions of familiar carols or tunes, often preceded by brief explanations that include interesting tidbits, such as "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is the second most recorded song in history. There are also vignettes of holiday shows, including "It's a Wonderful Life," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Christmas Carol."
Some of the scenes from last year's shows were a bit sharper in this year's version.
Wesley Yoshiro really had the head elf routine down pat this year (and later did a marvelous job as the Grinch) during the "We Are Santa's Elves" segment, while Alyssa Proell as Hermey, the elf who really wants to be a dentist, was absolutely darling.
The show glides along like a sled speeding downhill with a quicker pace than last year's and icy smooth scene changes. Again Christmas's most memorable villains get their day in the sun.
Literally having his place in the sun was Tom Koth as the Heat Miser who really has fun with his sunshine yellow character who melts everything he touches.
Paul Burkhard, who always adds so much energy to a show, gave the nasty magician a cartoonish, Snidely Whiplash-type characterization that was most entertaining. He also did a nice job with "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" with a host of youngsters.
Burkard, Koth and Isaiah Reynolds provided some nice harmonies behind Michela Kealey, who dressed in a fetching green elf costume complete with fashionable high-heeled elfin boots, crooned a spirited "Perfect Christmas Night."
In a more somber moment, Jane Klett really captured the emotion with a lovely pure rendition of "Christmas Eve."
Kids had their solo moments also, including Zoe Klett, whose "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," was a real charmer as was Madeline Keogh in "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."
The brief scenes from holiday shows were also well done. The kids did a really nice job in the dinner scene at the Cratchits, visited by Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol," even donning convincing British accents.
Youngsters also did well in "A Christmas Story" scene in which Flick's tongue gets stuck on an icy pole. Zack Buschke as the bully Scut Farkas and C.J. O'Donnell as his toadie friend Grover Dill played their villain roles nicely in the scene, as well as in "(I'm Gettin') Nuttin' for Christmas" with the other Holiday Villains.
The show just wouldn't be complete without a visit from the two-story tall Bumble the Abominable Snowman character, operated by Holly and Kenneth Penzkover, which brought screams from youngsters as it slid out in a number of scenes and even "danced" with the other villains in their scene.
Scenic Designer Mark E. Schuster and Master Carpenter A.J. Simon provided a most festive backdrop for the performers' romp. A large screen in the back on the stage contained pages of music from many of the songs and holiday graphics to enhance the show.
Music Director Jason Sudbrink provided some nice arrangements for the show.
On opening night, the cast at times lacked energy, especially the opening. A long week of rehearsals may have taken its toll, especially on the youngsters, one of whom was probably longing for his comfy bed as he yawned during the final number.
All in all, it is a most ambitious production that should delight "kids from 1 to 92" as Mel Torme wrote in his popular Christmas tune.
Travis went above and beyond helping us to get our "Guitar Medley" on its feet. He started out helping out as just a music consultant, bringing his guitar expertise with him, but ended up joining the cast. He was always willing to help out in any way he could, and he even took the time to teach guitar to some of the children in the cast. Way to go, Travis, and thank you!