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A Candle in the Window
a Holiday Show
by L. Don Swartz

COMPANY : New Dawn Theater [WEBSITE]
VENUE : New Dawn Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 3888

SHOWING : December 02, 2010 - December 10, 2010



A small group of weary travelers discover the power of the season while trapped in a lonely train station on Christmas Eve.

Director Sherry Ingbritsen
Trudy Debbie Bush
Charlie Lee Finacchio
George Aaron Glaze
Violet Glory Hanna
Irving Adam Monforton
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A Heartwarming Holiday Offering
by playgoer
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
"A Candle in the Window" is a charming comedy/drama that was totally unfamiliar to me before I saw New Dawn Theater's production. The production punches all the plot points and lets the show flow to its tear-inducing conclusion.

Act one concentrates on a group of seven train passengers, trapped overnight on Christmas Eve in a midwest blizzard. All carry their own burdens. Trudy (Debbie Bush) and Violet (Glory Hanna) are sisters, traveling to their nephew's after their own home has burned down in an accident, presumably caused by "slow" Violet. George (Aaron Glaze) and Sarah (Hannah West) are a married couple in which Sarah is pregnant, to which George's reaction is to hand her an envelope with money she has saved for a new stove and tell her gruffly to "take care of it." There's an art student (Chase McElroy) whose grandfather is dying, a teacher (Nicole Ojeda-Jones) who has run away from her job after her colleague was killed in a car accident, and a would-be writer (Adam Monforton). They are welcomed for the night by Charlie, the station master (Lee Finocchio).

Act one ends with a knock on the outside door, after Violet has reported a face appearing in a window. In a very satisfying touch, act two begins a few moments before that knock, so we are brought back into the action before a troupe of children appears from outside, dressed for a church nativity skit that they have devised without the knowledge of any adults. The interaction of children with adults and the aftermath of their conversations takes up the rest of act two. All loose ends are tied up, with some mystical touches thrown in.

This is a well-written play. The dialogue of the children doesn't ring particularly true at first, with words like "skedaddle" predominating, but it's an intentional device to distance the audience a bit until we discover exactly what is going on. The timeframe of the play is supposed to be 1980, but the feel is of an earlier day. Neither costumes nor hairstyles date the production to a specific time.

The attractive set by Paul Ingbritsen nicely utilizes the wide stage at New Dawn, although the blocking of the children's skit in act two seems odd, with them performing in profile to the paying audience (us), while their audience in the train depot sits face front. It also seems odd that the candle lit in the show is not the candle in the window (as the title would suggest), but a candle on the mantle of a fireplace. The window itself seems to be flimsy plastic, which is the only stage scenic element I didn't care for. I even liked the unbalanced colors of the lights on the Christmas tree; it looked like something an employee would put up on orders of his boss, without particular care.

The performances all allow the play to come to life. There are no particular standouts in acting, although some of the roles themselves are flashier than others. Energy level is appropriate for each of the characters. The children have been coached to project well, so there are few volume problems in the show. It all comes together satisfyingly, letting the play shine through. And isn't that what all productions should do? [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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