CRITICAL ACCLAIM for A CHRISTMAS MEMORY
REVIEW QUOTES ALABAMA 2011
GEM OF A PLAY DISPLAYS WARM WISDOM FROM THE HEART
Truman Capote's largely autobiographical A Christmas Memory (1956) has become a staple fare for the holidays, evoking a past and more gentle time, and the simplicity of a heart willing to give for the pure joy of giving, asking nothing in return but friendship and love.
Its most recent version now on offer at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, is a musical adaptation by Duane Poole, with music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Carol Hall. Although it adds characters to Capote's text, this version is otherwise true to the original's intentions, capitalizing on incorporating Capote's narrative that makes the simple profound and the ordinary poetic.
It is a heartwarming story of the close and loving relationship between [a young boy and his elderly cousin] Buddy and Sook. [Their] 1930s adventures are interspersed with songs and 1950s commentary on them. A total of seven actors create an excellent ensemble of multidimensional, credible & familiar individuals, allowing the sentimental material to tap into the audience's awareness of the truths Capote has to tell about country life, love and loneliness with a kind of warm wisdom that only comes from the heart.
Songs like the ragtime "Alabama Fruitcake" are irresistably engaging and "Mighty Sweet Music" … captures the essence of simple down-home energy.
[I don’t know] whether it is possible to never grow up like Peter Pan; we might all prefer to remain young forever like Sook. And though time has a way of challenging us in many ways, and death is inevitable, we can all have an influence on one another. As Sook says: "Just because a person dies doesn't mean they're gone... they’ve just moved on to a better place."
This gem of a play doesn't have big production numbers with a cast of thousands, nor does it have the glitz & glamor of fancy costumes and sets [all of which have their place in the likes of blockbuster musicals]; but it makes up for it by enthralling audiences in allowing them to connect with the hearts of its characters, and it entertains us with a rustic charm both visual and thematic.
Serving the Montgomery Alabama community by posting reviews of professional, university, and community theatre productions.
MICHAEL P. HOWLEY - A member of the American Theatre Critics Association, with 42 years experience in university teaching, directing, acting, and theatre criticism, with membership in SDC, and service on Board of Directors of the Alabama Conference of Theatre and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.