Friday, December 6, 2013

REVIEW: "Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas" Presented by Longview's Rising Star Prod.

UH-OH, HERE COMES CHRISTMAS, based on Robert Fulgram's book, and adapted to stage by David Caldwell and Ernest Zulia, and presented by Rising Star Productions, opened December 6 at the Rising Star Theater in Kelso, Wash.

"I'm not often aware that I am happy, but I am aware that I have been happy often." ~ from the show

The Story

The show features fifteen holiday stories from the international best-selling author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten which have been crafted into an engaging evening of storytelling and song. This charming show takes a funny, heartwarming and often poignant look at the struggle to find the spirit of the holidays amid the avalanche of commercialism, stress and chaos that crashes down every December. 

There are many delightful, inspiring, often humorous and sometimes touching stories--generally delivered as monologues, though some are given as vignettes. This is the ideal vehicle for this theater and ensemble and an excellent alternative for those tired of the "same ol', same ol'" holiday play (another "Christmas Carol" anyone?).

The Songs

There are a couple of familiar Christmas songs as well as five others you may not know that will delight audiences. One of them, "The Christmas Wrap," was composed by Greg Moore, the show's able accompanist. Each song was presented perfectly--the right harmony, the right feel--and could be heard well. I especially enjoyed "The Marvelous Toy" which I remember from my youth.

Note: There are two stage versions of this work and it can be offered with four musical pieces written for the show or there is a version without music. RSP chose the non-musical version and then added their own songs (which I think were better).

The Stars

L to R: Melanie Portwood, Laurel and Greg Moore (seated),
Jueanne Meyers, and Eric Gerdlund. Photo provided.
The "cast" of Uh-Oh consists of Eric Gerdlund, Jueanne Meyers (Artistic Director), Melanie Portwood, and the husband and wife team Greg and Laurel Moore. (A mime is also performed by Kyrie Huggins.)

The ensemble was a near ideal grouping. They each sang well on their own and harmonized very well together, too, voices blending nicely. They had their parts down and diction was clear.

Each player had their moment to shine and each shared the spotlight as well. If I were to choose a standout--and this is a hard one since the cast was so well matched--I'd choose Gerdlund. He seemed to convey a real connection with his material--especially the one about wanting his childhood back.

The Staging

As usual with Rising Star Productions, the set was not very complex or expensive. One simple "Christmassy" set here did the trick just fine. Remember, this was not so much a play as it is something of a "variety show."

This show was well suited to Rising Star Productions and accomplished what they aim for: Good, clean, family entertainment that builds and showcases community talent. The show runs less than two hours and can be enjoyed by the whole family (although I think that those who've been around for a few holiday seasons may relate better than the young).

The Seats

All performances are presented in their space at the Three Rivers Mall; December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. with additional matinees on December 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 general, $5 for children (12 and under) and $8 for seniors (65+). Come early and enjoy the pre-show Christmas sing-a-long. Tickets at:

Review by Gregory E. Zschomler.
Photo provided.

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