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2016 Merry Little Holiday Shorts

a Short Play Festival
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Daniel GUyton, Vivian Lermaond, Ken Preuss, Jason Herman, Henry W. Kimmel, Nathan Brandon Gaik, Steven Korbar, Mark Harvey Levine, Peter Dakutis

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 5001

SHOWING : December 01, 2016 - December 11, 2016

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Featuring a Santa’s sack full of new one act plays!
"Last of the Tannenbaums" by Daniel Guyton, directed by William Thurmond
"Chet’s Second Chance" by Vivian Lermaond, directed by J. Michael Carroll
"The Gift of the Matt-Guy" by Ken Preuss, directed by Tom Johnson
"All Our Future Christmases" by Jason Herman, directed by Olivia Kaye Sloan
"Christmas in July" by Henry W. Kimmel, directed by Misty Barber Tice
"A Christmas Intervention" by Nathan Brandon Gaik, directed by Nat Martin
"World’s Worst Christmas" by Steven Korbar, directed by Clay Randel
"Oh, Tannenbaum" by Mark Harvey Levine, directed by Judith Beasley
"Waffle Christmas" by Peter Dakutis, directed by Elisabeth Cooper


CAST & CREW LIST
Visitor Two, Dr. Fellowes Lory Cox
Tannenbaum, Lumberjack Aaron Gotlieb
Matt Samuel Gresham
Liebowitz, Father Davin Allen Grindstaff
Katie Tali Higgins
Ginny Liane Lemaster
Bridgette Jessica McGuire
Mother Kathleen Seconder
Mother Kelly Sklare
Lois, Julie Abra Thurmond
Chet, Harry William Thurmond
Marvin, Santa Claus Pat Young
Eddie Sarah Zuk
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Little Merry
by playgoer
Monday, December 12, 2016
3.5
The 2016 edition of "Merry Little Holiday Shorts" tends toward family-friendly and sentimental rather than bawdy and hilarious, although one totally superfluous "F" bomb takes it out of family-friendly territory. As always in a collection of short plays, some work better than others.

The first play, Daniel Guyton’s "Last of the Tannenbaums," works. In it, the lone tree in a clearing of what was once a grove of evergreens (Sarah Zuk) bemoans her lonely lot. She is titillated and curious when her bird friend (Laura Schirmer) explains the human tradition of Christmas trees, and looks forward to the arrival of a lumberjack (Aaron Gotlieb). There’s a line indicating that the future she anticipates won’t come to pass, but the cheery and slightly off-kilter tone sustains throughout. William Thurmond has directed a terrific start to the evening, aided by fine costumes, a beautifully minimalist set, and endearing performances from all his actors.

Second is "Chet’s Second Chance," in which an elf (Pat Young) shows up in the house of a sheriff (William Thurmond) and convinces him to rekindle a romance. Vivian Lermaond’s script is relatively slight, but J. Michael Carroll’s direction keeps the pace up, and Mr. Young’s performance is quirky and sharp, holding interest throughout.

The third entry in the evening, Ken Preuss’ "The Gift of the Matt-Guy," is a wonderfully plotted short play that has Matt (Joshua Sklare) visited by iterations of his future self (J. Lee Graham) as he tries to decide what Christmas gift to buy for his girlfriend (Tali Higgins; Lory Cox in the future). All his choices seem to lead to dismal futures, but a twist ending (with a nice lighting effect) leaves everything delightfully explained. The writing here is the star, although it does tend somewhat to the literary. Messrs. Sklare and Graham are well-cast in terms of similar looks, but their acting tends toward the stilted. Tom Johnson’s blocking tends toward the static, so the play’s appeal is primarily in its clever plotting.

Fourth up is Jason Herman’s drama "All Our Future Christmases," in which a mother (Kelly Sklare) and her daughter (Lexi Kennerly) prepare to experience their first Christmas without the mother’s mother. Olivia Kaye Sloan has coaxed lovely, heartfelt performances out of the actors, but the low-key drama of the story exudes an air of melancholy that is not at all merry.

The last play in the first act, Henry W. Kimmel’s "Christmas in July," boasts a large cast (adults Davin Allen Grindstaff and Kathleen Seconder as parents, children Noel Wheatley and Ellis Wheatley as their progeny, and Pat Young as a svelte Santa Claus). Misty Barber Tice has directed this slight, over-populated comedy with a good deal of movement, but the play suffers from the ever-present problem of children onstage whose diction and projection leave much to be desired. It’s an okay, but relatively forgettable end to the act.

Nathan Brandon Gaik’s "A Christmas Intervention" starts the second act. There’s a lot of comedy in the story, which has a control freak mother (Abra Thurmond) running roughshod over her husband (William Thurmond) and daughter (Jessica McGuire) until an unconventional therapist (Lory Cox) takes control of the situation. Nat Martin hasn’t created a good flow for the show, and Ms. Thurmond’s performance doesn’t really ring true. The sentimental ending reinforces the overall feeling of the evening.

"World’s Worst Christmas" by Steven Korbar comes next. It’s a pretty funny script, taking place in the waiting area of a Christmas Eve pharmacy, which Clay Randel has blocked by having the two actors (Laura Schirmer and J. Lee Graham) sit nearly motionless for the full run time. This play gets lots of laughs, but Mr. Graham’s projection is sorely lacking, sapping energy from the show. Ms. Schirmer is as delightful as she is in the first play of the evening.

Next-to-last is Mark Harvey Levine’s "Oh, Tannenbaum," which is turned into the highlight of the evening by director Judith Beasley and actors Aaron Gotlieb (a Christmas tree) and Davin Allen Grindstaff (the tree’s Jewish owner). There’s fluid movement for a play in which the well-costumed tree needs to stay put in one spot, and the performances both ring true, projecting all the humor and sincerity of the script across the figurative footlights. There’s a fair amount of similarity to "Last of the Tannenbaums," both of which feature a talking tree, but the tones of the two plays are distinct, making them both worthy components of the evening.

Last is "Waffle Christmas," a slight and sentimental play by Peter Dakutis. Director Elisabeth Cooper has given fairly active blocking to the actors (Abra Thurmond, Sam Gresham, Joshua Sklare, and Liane LeMaster), but the play is pretty forgettable. It ends the shorts with the theatrical equivalent of boring white cotton briefs.

For a production using the doors, backing set, and lights of the concurrently running "Scrooge," the 2016 "Merry Little Holiday Shorts" does a wonderful job of creating the worlds of all the plays. Set changes are often fairly complex, but they are accomplished with a minimum of disruption, and the music covering them is delightfully suitable. There may not be a superfluity of merriness in the production, but it certainly is enjoyable enough. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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