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Originally Conceived and Written by John Cramer
Additional material written by Jes Hancock and Jacob Sudbrink
Music and Lyrics by Various Artists
Produced by special arrangement with Alleycat Enterprises, Inc.
Directed by Jes Hancock and Jacob Sudbrink
November 30 to December 16, 2012
Sponsored In Part By
WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.
‘Candy Canes and Holiday Carols’ best production of four-year run
By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
December 6, 2012
WAUKESHA - The Christmas show that has become a tradition at the Waukesha Civic Theatre keeps improving every year. It was originally conceived by artisitic director John Cramer, and over the years has been tweaked for the better, this year with the help of Jacob Sudbrink and Jes Hancock.
This is the fourth production of “Candy Canes and Holiday Carols,” and, in my view, the best so far. Other than a few minor glitches - late cues and forgotten lines - things went very smoothly during a recent visit. The audience was very responsive, and it was obvious that the people were loving what they were seeing and hearing.
The music by Jacob Sudbrink, the costuming by Nikki Maritch, the scenic design by AJ Simon, the choreography and overall direction by Jes Hancock, the lighting by Aason Schmidt, the sound design by Scott Fudal and the mix of humor and serious message - all the elements were well-coordinated. No small task with a cast of 30.
Some of the same people have participated in this show every year, but the show is kept fresh thanks to some new faces and voices.
Allyson Kulinski, the youngest member of the cast, certainly gained her share of the attention. At times, all eyes were glued to her.
Sarah Albers and Lily Baranowski also intrigued us with their renditions of “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”
Many other children in the show played multiple roles and did so with earnestness and aplomb, but there are too many to mention each by name.
Among the older performers, Isaiah Reynolds was a wonderfully awful Grinch, and Owen Reynolds and Kaitlyn Downing did a nice job on their duet of “Winter Wonderland.”
Another lovely tune, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was performed by Paul Burkard and Teri Downing. Burkard is always a treat, no matter what he does. Kaitlyn Downing, Alexa Farell and Grace McDonell were a harmonious trio.
I loved the energy of the Miser-Minion pieces. Both Jeff Barta and Mark Cage and their little companions were amusing and well- choreographed.
The series that portrayed Christmas in other countries was expanded this year to include Germany, Mexico, Hawaii and Italy. The melodies and costumes were well chosen.
Martin Graffenius wowed us with his resonant renderings of “White Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” He can come back anytime.
In the humor department, “The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen” was an unexpected treat, and “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” was also clever. Burkard’s lighting fiasco was particularly funny, and something we can all relate to if we’ve experienced the frustrations of putting up the lights.
For sheer beauty, the “Carol of the Bells” and “Silent Night” moved us deeply.
If this show can’t get you into a holiday mood, nothing will. It’s nostalgic but also modern, especially in the children’s wish list to Santa. When word gets out about this show, the crowds will swell. You don’t want to miss it.
“Candy Canes and Holiday Carols” continues weekends through Dec. 16 at the Waukesha Civic Theatre, 264 W. Main St., Waukesha. Call 542-0708
By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
Dec. 4, 2012
While Waukesha Civic Theatre's holiday show is called "Candy Cane Tales and Holiday Carols" as it has been for the past few years, this year's show has a brand new look.
The show, originally conceived and written by managing artistic director John Cramer, featured a mostly kid cast that sang and danced its way through various skits, stories and tunes, highlighting holiday heroes and villains.
This year's show includes additional material written by Jes Hancock and Jacob Sudbrink, who were also the show's directors and choreographer and music director, respectively.
The show hangs together beautifully, like a row of Christmas stockings on a mantel, with the introduction of a family preparing for the holiday on Christmas Eve in their cozy "home" tucked into a corner of the set. The fireplace, Christmas tree and easy chair, plus well-chosen pieces, make it easy for the stage family of Paul Burkard and Teri Downing as the mom and dad and Evelyn Barta as their daughter to look comfortable and relaxed.
The family's conversations provide natural segues into the various scenes and songs. For instance, the "Yes, Virginia" scene (featuring Mark Cage and Clarissa Kluster) follows a family discussion of the existence of Santa Claus.
This season's cast of 30, split between adults and kids, means less cute-factor but more mature performances.
Many of the original show's villains, such as The Grinch and Heat Miser, return, as do holiday heroes like Frosty and Santa.
Yet, there is a decidedly more adult feel to the show, without losing the joy and energy of past shows.
Holiday humor is a big part of this show - most evident in the closing segment of the first act called "Ho, Ho, Ho and a Ha, Ha, Ha!" which opens with a hilarious take on the well-known English carol, "The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen." A chorus of men sing of their fate after entering a ladies restroom because a prankster had switched the male and female symbols on the door.
In "The Twelve Pains of Christmas," all the annoying aspects of the holidays are sung out - from writing Christmas cards to hanging lights - with very funny results. The scene is perfect for ad-libbing and should only get funnier in subsequent shows.
Another crowd favorite is the "Christmas Around the World Medley," which includes some nice choreography and colorful costumes, although the vocals were sometimes a little uneven on opening night. The Rockin' Around Trio (KaitlynDowning, Grace McDonell and Alex Farrell) perform a snappy "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," with a USO backdrop and patriotic outfits giving them an Andrews Sisters look. Loved the dad and daughter cruising through the scenes in the background, mimicking the others' movements, as they headed "home."
This year's Grinch, was truly a "nasty, wasty" fellow as portrayed by Isaiah Reynolds, whose exaggerated mime really gives a lot of life to "You're a Mean One."
There's lots of very nice music, starting with Martin Graffinius's easy-on-the-ears renditions of "White Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," although it would have been better to see him moving around the stage, and maybe engaging with other cast members, rather than appearing solo.
The second half opens with a lovely "Carol of the Bells" and closes with an equally beautiful candlelight version of "Silent Night."
Burkard seems to be everywhere in the show and is always entertaining. He and Teri Downing executed a really smooth "Baby, It's Cold Outside" while, in contrast his dastardly Professor Hinkle is all bluster and bumbling.
The kids also have their solos (Lily Baranowski and Sarah Albers) in a cleverly done scene in which a line of children quickly speeds through to sit on Santa's lap with their wishes, which transitions to several tunes.
One segment that didn't quite work was the opening number, called "Can-can," an energetic tribute to Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa that just seemed a jumble as it got going. The men's cancan line, however, would've done the Rockettes proud.
A.J. Simon's set is once again overflowing with holiday opulence with decorated trees, lighted screen in the back for scene visuals, a plump garland above and on the sides, in addition to the stage family's corner scene.
Some new sharp costumes also added to the festive look this year. Snow Miser (Cage) and his minions looked especially cool in silver and blue, while Jeff Barta's Heat Miser and his minions were really "hot" in their orange outfits.
Sunday, December 2, 2012; 09:12 AM - by Keith Gray
Santa Claus will definitely put the cast and crew of Waukesha Civic Theatre’s new holiday production CANDY CANE TALES AND HOLIDAY CAROLS on the "Nice" list this year. From the moment the fun filled evening begins, you can’t help but be overtaken by the holiday spirit. The production follows the story line of a young girl and her parents as they prepare for the holiday season. As the story moves forward, the inquisitive young girls asks questions about many of the holiday traditions, where they came from, and why we celebrate them. Her parents, aided by the rest of the company, help explain and further illustrate the answers through story, song, and dance.
The production takes on many favorite holiday stories including "Frosty the Snowman", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "The Year Without Santa Claus", and "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus". Songs range from classics such as "White Christmas", "Carol of the Bells" and "Silent Night" to story based songs like "You’re a Mean One Mister Grinch", "Heat Miser" and "Snow Miser". The production also contains a fantastic Christmas Around the World medley, including "Feliz Navidad", "Mele Kalikimaka" and "O Tannenbaum". Rounding out the show are some parodies and more humorous holiday songs, including "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "The Twelve Pains of Christmas".
Though there were some noticeable flubs in lines and song lyrics during opening night, the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s production will bring a smile to the face of even the biggest Scrooge you can find. The cast has great chemistry, move well together on stage, and project a positive, joyful energy throughout the theater. The writing, music, and choreography helped convey a joyous atmosphere that was infectious.
Among the many highlights of the night is the telling of the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Many of the cast members partake in the telling of the story, each taking telling bits of the story. When we finally meet the Grinch (played by Isaiah Reynolds), we are greeted by a creepy, campy, hilarious version of the Grinch that brings the house down. Other highlights included amazing performances by Mark Cage as the Snow Miser and Jeff Barta as the Heat Miser. These two actors brought back great childhood memories of these characters by their great attention to detail and character.
Over all, this is a fun, family friendly show that can be enjoyed by one and all. If the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is already bringing you down, take a few hours and visit the Waukesha Civic Theatre for this production. Your holiday spirit will be renewed.
CANDY CANE TALES AND HOLIDAY CAROLS runs weekends through December 16th. Tickets can be purchased online at the Waukesha Civic Theatre Web Site or by calling the box office at (262) 547-0708.
While playing the role of the “Mom” on stage, Teri also become an unofficial Mom to many of the cast and crew. She was always cheerful, enthusiastic, and very supportive of everyone with which she interacted. Teri often brought treats for the cast. One cast member said that she “… was an inspiration to us all.”