By Karen Isaacs
Stress seems a hallmark of the holiday season, along with feelings that can range from joy to despair.
A Christmas Survival Guide now at Ivoryton Playhouse through Sunday, Dec. 19 offers a lighthearted look at managing all of the emotions.
But you won’t feel either stressed or depressed by this tongue-in-cheek musical revue with minimum dialogue.
The premise is simple; Dr. Ted, a psychiatrist, has written a helpful instruction manual for the holidays and five stressed out people try to follow the instructions.
The show, the director (Brian Feehan) and the talented five member cast take familiar holiday music and turn it 45 degree or more to give us a new take on it.
In the second act, four of the five go off for what is supposed to be a quiet and possibly romantic sleigh ride. As they sing the song, things go awry. They are soon bumbling along as the inexperienced driver of the sleigh doesn’t know what he is doing and the horse, Rocky, takes over. Let’s just say that several of the people find the ride anything by peaceful and romantic and apparently Rocky manages to destroy or run over a number of things. This entire story is told with the traditional lyrics and wonderful body movements and facial expressions; you know exactly whose stomach is turning.
The cast manages to do this with a number of songs – adding facial expressions and gestures or a slightly different setting – which lets us look at the words in a different way.
What is particularly nice, is some lesser known songs are included. It was great to hear Jerome Kern’s “Happy New Year’s Blues” and the take-off of Kurt Weill’s Surubaya Johnny” – now song by Mrs. Claus and called “Surubaya Santa.”
The “12 Step…” takes that countdown of gifts song and adds new lyrics about what her sponsor gives to her. She, of course, becomes more and more agitated as the song goes on.
Only one non-holiday song is included, but it is perfect; Rodgers & Hart’s “Little Girl Blue.”
The cast is wonderful – all have excellent voices: Cory Candelet is terrific in “Santa Fantasy,” Emma Flynn has just the right degree of perkiness in “Reindeer Boogie.” Brian Michael Henry scores with “Silver Bells” and Adrianne Hick is terrific with “Happy New Year’s Blues.” Corey Scheys seems to have been given all the songs that are more angry or downbeat; she is hilarious in the song about the twelve steps.
You will relieve stress and have a great time at A Christmas Survival Guide. For tickets and Covid protocols, visit IvorytonPlayhouse.org
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