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Dad’s Christmas Miracle
a Holiday Comedy
by Pat Cook

ID# 4659

SHOWING : November 28, 2014 - December 21, 2014



Connor Murphy wants a go-cart for Christmas in the worst way. And that’s how he sets out to get it. Miss McLaughlin, his teacher, really gums up the works by handing out report cards just before vacation. “This is a socks and underwear card if ever there was one,” his best friend Neil tells him, blighting his hopes. His other best friend, Tater, is no help either—he is busy learning his one-word speech for the Christmas Pageant. His brother and sister stir up the household as the holiday approaches. In his mind, Connor sees everyone ganged up against him like a Greek chorus. He even pictures Dad reciting a theme paper entitled, “What I Got for Christmas.” And it’s up to Dad to perform the impossible by Christmas morning. Hysterical situations abound in this loving memory of Yuletide charm back when if you had a dollar it was more money than you knew what to do with; if you had an hour to play, it seemed forever and the best time in the whole world was Christmas.

Director Pete Borden
Jessica Murphy Tabitha Achinger
Frank Booth David Booth
Father James "Duke" Deuschle
Madelyn Liliya Moldovanska
Mother Diana Plonk
Miss McLaughlin Katherine Powers
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Dad’s Christmas Dud
by playgoer
Monday, December 22, 2014
"Dad’s Christmas Miracle" has a cute script by Pat Cook, using some interesting few-time storytelling elements, such as a Greek chorus, a teacher from the narrator’s past arriving to correct him, and a Christmas pageant snippet. ACT1 Theater’s production of it has a simple, serviceable set (designed by Rich Vandever), lit with some sophistication by sound/light designer Murray Mann. The pre-show and intermission music is a nice selection of holiday music, with many familiar tunes done in unfamiliar renditions. And that’s the sum total of what I liked in the production.

Director Peter Borden has pulled together a cast of varying ages, ranging upward from sixth grade. They’re not without talent, I would assume, but that’s hard to tell in this production. They seem to have been encouraged to saw the air with their arms while they speak, look back and forth over the audience instead of at anyone else onstage, and/or speak with an excess of projection that makes every word seem forced and unnatural. Whenever I thought a performance was approaching a natural ease, an awkward moment would occur, occasioned by the necessity of interacting with another actor who seemed to be inhabiting another world or by a bit of business that came across as artificial. I can only assume that the director suggested, or at least approved, these less-than-successful moments. The overall story comes through, but it’s in spite of the production, not because of it.

The actors congregate in the lobby after the show to receive congratulations from the audience. Mr. Borden, in his curtain speech, suggests that audience members not criticize the performances and instead leave by another exit if they weren’t pleased, since the actors might burst into tears. Before the show started, I assumed it was just a cute way of expressing the sentiment "if you like the show, tell everyone; if you don’t like it, tell no one." After the show, I had to wonder if it was based on past experience. Of the small audience at the performance I saw, not everyone exited through the lobby... [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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