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Christmas Belles
a Holiday Comedy
by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten

COMPANY : Rosewater Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Rosewater Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 3887

SHOWING : November 26, 2010 - December 18, 2010



A church Christmas program spins hilariously out of control in this Southern farce about squabbling sisters, family secrets, a surly Santa, a vengeful sheep and a reluctant Elvis impersonator.

Director G. Scott Riley
Dub Dubberly Joe Baxter
Honey Raye Futrelle Lisa Clark
John Curtis Buntner James "Duke" Deuschle
Patsy Price Kathy Kuczka
Geneva Musgrave MaryLynn LeCraw
Frankie Futrelle-Dubberly Lynn Maslia
Twink Futrelle Amy Morrow
Raynerd Chisolm Travis Oates
Rhonda Lynn Lampley Linda Place
Gina Jo Dubberly Christine Roeser
Justin Waverly Brian Work
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Crimes of the Season
by playgoer
Monday, December 20, 2010
"Christmas Belles" has strong resemblances to "Crimes of the Heart" and "A Tuna Christmas." It's as if the cast of "Crimes of the Heart" were dropped into the middle of a Texas Christmas plot, with distinct actors for each role. Like "Crimes of the Heart," there's a trio of sisters -- the youngest in jail for retaliation against her man; one recently returned to town with a slightly shady reputation. Instead of a lonely oldest sister, though, we have a nine-plus-months pregnant woman whose store Santa husband is bent over with kidney stones. You can imagine some of the physical comedy arising from that pairing.

There's a fair amount of physical comedy in the show, particularly from Brian Work as a lovestruck interim pastor. His conversations with God act as one means of exposition, as do conversations Frankie Futrelle (the pregnant middle sister) has with her departed mother. These are pretty clunky and similar plot conveniences.

There are a number of set-pieces in the writing, in which one character is allowed to shine in a solo acting spot. The best is given to Kathy Kuczka as a pain pill-soused society matron attempting to quote the Gospel of Luke. Travis Oates also does a nice job with his speeches as teenager Raynard Chisum, and so does Lisa Bagwell (the oldest sister) in her enthusiastic moments planning a church Christmas pageant.

The play itself is a fairly fluffy and forgettable comedy, pleasant enough and probably delightful in the right production. Rosewater Theatre, however, has not put together a polished production. The set has a slightly slapdash quality to it, which is not altogether inappropriate for the Texas town hosting the shenanigans, but it's not visually appealing. The biggest problem, though, is the lack of polish in the performances. There was an amazing number of line bobbles in the performance I saw, late in the run, and the awkwardness of waiting for the actors to stumble to the end of their lines was palpable. The actors had their characters down, but it would have been a good idea if they had their lines down equally well.

Casting of the three sisters is very good. It's rare to see a production where three women look enough alike to be sisters, but this production manages it. The best performance I saw came from Amy Morrow, playing the youngest sister, but she seemed to toss in many in-character ad libs that tended to unbalance the action. It's the lack of balance in the production that proves to be its downfall. A lot of the elements work adequately on their own, but they don't cohere to make a memorable evening of theatre. "Christmas Belles" is a cheerily plotted holiday diversion, but this production isn't as diverting as it should have been. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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