[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of Christmastime Origins written by Julio Martinez, adapted by Doug Haverty, directed by Kathleen Delaney, produced by Suzy London, and with musical direction by Paul Cady at the Group Rep through January 15.
Writer and broadcaster Julio Martinez brings us his own unique version of the stories behind four Christmas icons: Silent Night, Jingle Bells, White Christmas and A Christmas Carol. All told as staged musical radio plays, complete with a hilarious ‘foley’ department, adding endless amounts of charm and fun to the performance.
The stories are taken from Julio’s book, The Eight Plays of Christmas and adapted by the wonderful artistic director of the Group Rep, Doug Haverty.
There’s something very special about radio plays performed onstage. It feels like you are inside the theatre world. Backstage, a silent observer and yet still a part of the action and it makes for a very intimate experience.
These four plays are very clever retellings of the histories of these timeless songs. Each one a version of how the music came to be. Fascinating re-enactments of every step of the creative process and although I am sure creative license was taken, they seem very realistic and are stirringly and authentically told.
Of course, it’s the perfect season for stories and the frosty night air adds to the magic of the show. The performers are all so caught up in the wonder of it, genuinely beaming and fully committed to the stories and the characters that populate them. Christmastime Origins is a truly endearing piece of work with an already classic and traditional candor. I could really see this being performed every year. A holiday tradition, revisited by cast and audience alike. A way to mark the holidays and remind ourselves of the true spirit of the season.
The story of the writing of White Christmas was beautiful, as was the story of Silent Night. I really had no idea that Jingle Bells was an American song. A Christmas Carol is obviously not a song, but the background to Dickens’s unforgettable story of redemption was heartfelt and moving.
The performers are wonderful and the staging is imaginative, warmly funny and poignant. You can always tell when there is joy in a production, both on stage and off and this show sings with joy! I admit I had a tear in my eye a couple of times…I make no excuse!
This year, as we venture out once more, if tentatively, it’s a pleasure to be amongst people again. So let us revel in the possibilities and return to what we all yearned for these past couple of years. Companionship, friendship, creativity and love.
Christmastime Origins is running every Saturday and Sunday at the Group Rep through January 15. Put yourself firmly in the Christmas mood with this wonderful emotional musical play! Bravo! And “God Bless Us Everyone!”
Cast features the talents of Cynthia Bryant, Ellen Burr, Shawn Cahill, Carolyn English, Lareen Faye, Tessa Grace, Brad Kahn, Lauryn McCollum, Suzan Solomon, Margaret Staedler, Mark Stancato, Melissa Strauss, Kay Vermeil, Renaud Gordon Warrick, with Paul Cady on keyboard.
The Production Team
Production Team includes Julio Martinez (Playwright), Doug Haverty (Adapter/Graphic Design), Kathleen Delaney (Director), Suzy London (Producer), Paul Cady (Musical Director), Cathy Diane Tomlin (Stage Manager/AD), Dan O’Connell (Sound Foley Creator), Mikel Parraga Willis (Foley Design), Douglas Gabrielle (Lighting Design), Kayra Schwartz (Costumes/Props), John Ledley (Board Operator), Kristin Stancato (Online Marketing), Doug Engalla (Photography/Videography), and Mark Stancato (Sound Consultant).
Now through January 15, Saturdays at 4pm, Sundays at 7pm.
10900 Burbank Blvd. N. Hollywood, CA 91601