The Kids From Your Favorite Christmas Shows, All Grown Up
A Theater Review by Julinda D. Lewis
At: Richmond Triangle Players at the Robert B. Moss Theatre, 1300 Altamont Ave, RVA 23230
Performances: November 16 – December 18, 2022
Ticket Prices: $10 – $45
Info: (804) 346-8113 or rtriangle.org
We can always depend on Richmond Triangle Players to give us an edgy, snarky, comedic, or dark Christmas offering. Christmas on the Rocks, a collection of short plays or scenes by various authors, does not disappoint – it gives us all of the above.
This year, the authors are John Cariani, Jenn Harris & Matthew Wilkas, Jeffrey Hatcher, Jacques Lamarre, Theresa Rebeck, and Edwin Sanchez. The “kids,” a slightly different cast of characters than RTP’s 2015 production, include Ralphie from A Christmas Story, Zuzu Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, Hermey, the Elf from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys, Karen, an internet influencer, Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol, Clara from The Nutcracker ballet, and the hapless Charlie Brown. Zuzu and Karen replaced Susan (Miracle on 34th Street) and Cindy Lou Who (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas). Regional productions may feature different characters.
All these characters are portrayed by two highly talented and versatile actors. Theresa Mantiply plays all the women and Eddie Webster plays all the men. The motley cast of characters wander, one by one, into a local bar, where the friendly bartender, played by Joe Pabst, is at first surprised and ultimately perplexed at the increasingly colorful parade of characters who enter, seeking solace from the loneliness of Christmas Eve.
In the first scene, we see Ralphie, wearing an eye patch, peek through the window of the unimposing little bar – beautifully designed by William Luther with important inclusive details that provide something each of the characters can relate to on a personal level.
To answer the obvious question, yes, Ralphie finally did get his eye shot out, but it was not self-inflicted. A firearms safety instructor for the NRA, he was shot by a student and is now unemployed. On top of that, he has intimacy issues due to that infamous pink bunny suit his Aunt Clara sent, but not for the reasons one might expect. You see, he actually liked it.
Little Zuzu Bailey who, as a child, declared that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings, has been harassed by angels for decades – and responds in nonsensical rhyming platitudes, while Hermey, the Elf who had dreams of becoming a dentist, has become a gossipy hater who holds a long-time grudge against Rudolf – not realizing that his own misfit status makes him more like Rudolph than not.
Karen, an entitled but untalented influencer, holds the Bartender hostage, posting increasingly unhinged videos for her unfortunate followers. Tiny Tim drops by, displaying Scrooge-like qualities and Clara’s cheating Prince has left her alone for the holiday. The last customer is none other than Charlie Brown, complete with a yellow sweater with a black zigzag line. Wonder of wonders – it’s a Christmas miracle – he finally gets to talk to The Little Red Haired Girl in the only scene shared by Mantiply and Webster. Through it all, Pabst calmy mixes drinks and offers gentle advice.
Christmas on the Rocks is a non-traditional Christmas story – or collection of sequels – billed as “an offbeat collection of twisted holiday tales” for the grown up kids in all of us who love a good laugh – especially when it’s at our own expense. There are limited performances left, so ditch the kids and go see it.
Julinda D. Lewis is a dancer, teacher, and writer who was born in Brooklyn, NY and now lives in Eastern Henrico County.
CHRISTMAS ON THE ROCKS:
An Epic Offbeat Collection of Twisted Holiday Tales
Written by John Cariani, Jenn Harris & Matthew Wilkas, Jeffrey hatcher, Jacques Lamarre, Theresa Rebeck, and Edwin Sanchez
Conceived by Rob Ruggiero
Sponsored by David Peake
Directed by Axle Burtness
Theresa Mantiply – Woman
Eddie Webster – Man
Joe Pabst – the Bartender
Understudies: Rachel Garmon-Williams and Travis Williams
Scenic & Costume Design – William Luther
Lighting Design – Nathan Wunderlich
Sound & Projections Design – Lucian Restivo
Hair & Make Up Design – Luke Newsome
Props Design – Tim Moehring
Dialect Coach – Donna E. Cogbill
Technical Direction – William Luther
Assistant Scenic & Costume Design – Kendall Walker
Production Stage Manager – Saskia Price
Photo Credits: John MacLellan
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