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A Puppet, A Pastor, and a Play come together for “Hand To God” at the Incline

Review by Mary Kate Groh of “Hand to God”: Incline Theatre

If you thought puppets were used only in children’s story-telling, you were wrong. Written by playwright Robert Askins, “Hand To God” is a hilarious, raunchy satire about teen angst, Christianity, and puppets, now playing at the Warsaw Incline Theater. 

This play is definitely not a family-friendly show to bring your kids to since it contains R-Rated adult language and jokes. “Hand to God” opens with a perfectly comedic monologue by “Tyrone” and Jason (Alexander Slade). Slade masters his comedic timing and leaves audience members rolling with laughter. His ability to transform from an awkward youth into the bombastic and raging puppet, Tyrone, is a true talent. Hats off to Slade for pulling off such a challenging performance! 

Jason’s mother, Margery (Karie Gipson) is an anxious widower who runs the puppet ministry class who fends off Paster Greg’s (Brian Anderson) creepy romantic advances. Timothy (Jack Kremer) is a troubled riff-raff who is in the puppet ministry with Jason and the sweet and naive Jessica (Hope Pauly). Kremer plays this hooligan with scene-stealing humor and animation. 

The set design (Brett Bowling) is very convincing for the location of a church basement where much of this play takes place. However, some of the scene changes felt too long, but the catchy Christian music that played between scenes helped carry the show along. At times, I felt the large church basement set design took away from the scenes that didn’t take place in the church basement such as the hilarious car scene with Jason and his mom or the teetertotter scene with Jason and Jessica. 

This play is not for the easily offended as it has over the top dark humor that pokes fun at Christianity. However, if you want to see a demonic puppet deliver a vulgar opening monologue about organized religions, this is the show to see. 

Hand to God plays at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre Jan. 23-Feb. 9 [East Price Hill] .  For tickets, call the theater at 513-241-6550 or go here: http://www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/Incline/News.aspx

Puppets Play with People in “Hand to God” at the Incline

Review by Blair Godshall of “Hand to God”: Incline Theatre

The play “Hand to God” could be described as a dysfunctional family drama/teenager coping with angst saga/angry satire on Christianity/ horror movie/ raunchy comedy/ puppet show. All these elements coexist like a cat fight you can’t stop watching in Robert Askins’ script, now playing at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre. 

Puppetry is the show’s signature but it’s not as similar to“Avenue Q” as you might think. I was expecting every actor to have a puppet but it’s not the case here. Both this play and “Avenue Q” contain “R” rated adult humor so don’t bring the kids. Manipulated principally and masterfully by the hilarious Alexander Slade (who plays unhappy teen Jason), the all-too-animated puppet Tyrone is the show’s most compelling character. The mild-mannered Jason’s uncontrolled, raging, teenage alter-ego, Tyrone, curses, threatens, intimidates, seduces, and physically attacks other characters. His self-image is that of well… Satan himself. 

Slade does a marvelous job, not only of manipulating the puppet physically but in switching seamlessly between Jason’s younger, more tentative voice, and Tyrone’s lower-pitched growl. Playing two characters (or two manifestations of the same character) is no easy task, and Slade is more than up to it. I was really impressed with his performance and ability to lure the audience in. Jessica (Hope Pauly) plays a sweet girl who has a crush on Jason. I won’t give anything away, but her character surprised me the most.

Jason’s family is in crisis. His father recently died, apparently of overeating, and his mother, Margery (Karie Gipson), a woman beyond the verge of a nervous breakdown with an appetite for rough sex, is nearly always out of control. Her character begins at a high level of anxious intensity and stays there throughout the play giving her a one-dimensional feel. 

The most ambiguous character is Greg (Brian Anderson), the pastor of the church in which Margery and the teenagers participate in a puppet ministry (yes, you read that right). We first see him in a cringe-worthy, uncomfortable attempt to romance Margery, then later he seems to want to help the others through their difficulties, but I still can’t get past the character’s creepiness. 

Timothy (Jack Kremer) plays the role of a total jerk with great believability where everyone in the audience will want to take a swipe at him, but they won’t because the other characters in the play do it for us. Timothy wants only one thing and finds it in a hilarious scene for which director Dylan Shelton deserves praise and a high-five for staging (you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to when you see the play). 

The technical aspects of the production are well executed. Brett Bowling’s set is a convincing reproduction of a church basement/room, complete with religious posters and cheap furniture (notably the beanbag chairs). The set serves a variety of functions but some of the set changes slow the play’s pace at times. This is a props-heavy show, and designer Caren Brady provides a nice collection of Bibles, plastic toys, pictures, bookcases, etc., many of which are abused from the characters’ emotional wildness. 

The lighting/sound designer (Denny Reed) memorably changesthe lighting to dramatic red when Tyrone is at his most devilish and there is a nice effect when Timothy puts out one of the lights in the church basement but my question then is, how does a lightbulb come back on if it was broken? Smaller sound effects, such as a car door closing when Jason gets out of Margery’s car, are well coordinated with the action.

Like I mentioned before, this is not a play for children, so don’t let the puppets fool you into thinking otherwise (those little devils; no pun intended). Additionally, it more than pokes fun at organized Christian religions and many will find it to be sacrilegious, so you can’t say I didn’t warn you. For all the hilarity, it’s a pretty dark play and yet, audiences will relate to the play’s over-the-top humor and connection to the struggles of a troubled young man. The elusive Tyrone starts and ends the show as a foul-mouthed lecturer on the history and sociology of religion. He might be a kind of external demonic force as well as the voice of Jason’s anger, grief, and frustration, but Askins refrains from providing easy answers.

Hand to God plays at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre
Jan. 23-Feb. 9 [East Price Hill]   For tickets, call the theater at 513-241-6550 or go here: http://www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/Incline/News.aspx

New Parents’ Worries Exposed in Know’s “In The Night Time (Before The Sun Rises)”


Review by Christiana Molldrem Harkulich Of “In the Night Time”: Know Theatre

Nina Segal’s “In The Night Time (Before The Sun Rises)” at Know Theatre is a timely and dark story at the intersection of exhausted new parenthood and global climate precariousness and war. As the Woman and the Man keep reminding us, these disparate events that happen all over the world are not connected—except when they are. Over the course of an hour on the Know stage, “In the Night Time shows a woman and a man—in the throes of new parent exhaustion and an endlessly crying baby—telling stories to soothe as they expose their worry about the future. 

“In the Night Time” is an intimate performance written in a poetic third person voice. The writing reminds me of a mix between the narrative theatre of Mary Zimmerman’s “The Metamorphosis” or the metatheatrical writing in Itamar Moses’s “Authorial Intent”. Elizabeth Chinn Molloy as Woman and Brandon Burton as Man have a believable connection and great chemistry. The play seems to happens in someplace in the near future, but also out of time. In the course of the play we learn through stories, addressed directly to the audience, about the Man and the Woman’s relationship and the worries they have for their new child and the realities of the world collapsing around them. Their world onstage is filled with the debris of a post-apocalyptic or war-torn world, it reminded me of pictures of apartment buildings in Syria after the bombings. While the play is in English, the events could happen anywhere in the world since the realities of new parenthood and crying babies are universal. 

Brant Russell directs the play with a lighter tone (verging towards children’s theatre) which is in direct opposition to the apocalyptic design choices of Scenic and lighting Designer Andrew Hungerford and Costume Designer Noelle Widig-Johnston. The tone and the aesthetic come together at the end of the play—melding primarily through the excellent sound design by Doug Borntrager. The child’s endless screaming reminds us that while global problems are overwhelming, the immediate local problem must be dealt with first. 

For a childless 30-something married professional, this play reminded me a lot of conversations I’ve had with friends about whether or not to have children (and NPR articles: https://www.npr.org/2016/08/18/479349760/should-we-be-having-kids-in-the-age-of-climate-change ). It sends home the message how much we are connected and what the stakes of the future are. “In The Night Time (Before The Sun Rises)” plays through February 8th at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati– tickets available here: (https://knowtheatre.com/season-22/nighttime/). 

Know’s “In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises)” is a Defining Moment


Review by Raechel Lombardo Of “In the Night Time”: Know Theatre

Ostensibly, Know Theatre‘s “In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises),” by Nina Segal, is a play; it certainly has all of the characteristics and structure of one.  It follows the hypothetical, every day circumstances, and very personal lives, of a man and a woman who have a love story—somewhat conventional or unconventional, depending on how you interpret it—and ultimately have a child.  In order to tell this story, however, it has a unique, almost poetic, speech and tone to it. For this reason, I would argue “In the Night Time” is more an incredible performance of a poem–and a poem whose poetic elements of tone, wording, and metaphors weren’t just in the lines and acting, but in the totality of what was put into this production.

Playwright Nina Segal made a bold choice in writing this multi-formatted love child of written and performative art, representing the strange way we feel as people trying to figure ourselves out and this messed-up world, and I applaud the journey.

Director Brant Russell tackled this interestingly abstract script in such a fantastic way, allowing the audience to feel all the overwhelming senses you may feel when going through such a crazy, poetic, existential crisis.  A tip of the hat to Resident Stage Manager Meghan Winter for sticking with the vision and supporting it, as I do not doubt it was often an enigma and quest to discover. And thanks for dealing with the messy apartment!

Scenic and Lighting Designer Andrew J. Hungerford was surely a great collaborative force to orchestrate the vision of the space and how it, too, should echo the meaning of the poetry.

And don’t think I didn’t notice your handiwork, Costume Designer Noelle Wedig-Johnston.  If the saddening dialogue and dystopic environment wasn’t enough, her direction in worn clothing allowed us to fully buy this as the reality the characters have endured, whether taken in a literal or metaphorical sense.

Elizabeth Chinn Molloy, who plays the role of Woman, is a truthful perspective of the fiery power women have inside them, while also having to occasionally set that aside and not realize it fully due to circumstances.  I find her rather captivating, and she certainly set the stage in how she defined her character’s existence.

Brandon Burton, who plays the role of Man, is also a nicely paired truthful perspective of the honest fear and doubt men aren’t allowed to show, and the boyish charm and controlling privilege they often hide behind.  I find his honesty a relief, and appreciated the synergy he developed with his fellow actor’s energy to complete the overall fear we all feel.

Sound and Projection Designer Doug Borntrager is tasteful in his use of the signature baby sound and simply defining the shift in poetic dialogue or chapter.

Technical Director Henry Bateman executed the vision of the designers and director; this, as everything else, clicked for me, truly making the production a mutually collaborative process.

Kudos to Props Master and Paint Charge Kayla Williams and Props and Paint Artist Kara Trusty for not only the perfect selection of objects in quantity and quality, but for the idea of the apartment space being in chaos as an intentional execution rather than just thrown about.  Once again, the collaboration to work with such a unique script and tackle the beast was well done.

If you’re looking for something that breaks away from the usual plot-based structure of a play, something a little more abstract, something with various things to say and various ways to say it, take a look at “In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises)” at the Know Theatre, running until Fe

Carnegie’s “Joseph” Paints the Night Fantastic

Review by Doug Iden of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”: Carnegie

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” coated The Carnegie stage with many colors on opening night of the musical, based upon the well-known Biblical story.  Originally performed as a 20-minute High School concert written by then teenagers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, the show evolved first as a 40 minute one-act play and, ultimately, as a full-blown musical.

The show opens with a classroom of youngsters (Charlie Lindeman, Elliot Martin, Kelly Morgan, Jackson Schabell, Athena Updike and Kit Valentine) listening to the story of Joseph by the Narrator (Tia Seay) in the “Prologue”.  Joseph (Frankie Chuter) appears singing “Any Dream Will Do” joined by the children’s chorus which sets the positive tone of the show. Chuter is very effective as Joseph with a good stage presence and an excellent voice.  Seay has a good soprano voice in the critical role of the Narrator who tells the story.  

Then, the curtain opens and we meet Joseph’s father Jacob (Sean Mette) and his brothers (Kyle Taylor, Kate Stark, Ashley Morton, Mattison Sullivan, Emma Moss, Caleb Redslob, Chloe Price, Cian Steele, Maddie Vaughn and Geoffrey Hill) in the song “Jacob and Son”.  The brother’s jealousy boils over when Jacob presents Joseph with a “coat of many colors”.  Incensed about the favoritism, the brothers plot to avenge themselves.  We also learn about Joseph’s propensity for dream interpretation in “Joseph’s Dreams”.  However, the brothers sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt and assume they will never see him again.

In Egypt, Joseph is sold to Potiphar (Redslob) and is earning his respect but Mrs. Potiphar (Kate Stark) in a very slinky dance tries to seduce him which lands Joseph in jail.  In one of the best songs in the score, Joseph bemoans his imprisonment with the impassioned “Close Every Door”.   But his ability to interpret dreams brings him to the attention of the Pharaoh and he soonrises to prominence in Egypt.  

Interwoven throughout the show as singers and dancers are the Teen Ensemble comprised of Sylas Craven, Fiona Blanchet, Chloe Esmeier, Jaden Martin, Madeline Moore, Sara Moore and Sam Olt.

Part of the charm of the show is the variety of song genres which are complemented by matching dancing routines choreographed by Director Maggie Perrino.  The first genre is Country and Western with the song “One More Angel in Heaven” accompanied by square dancing and western costumes with cowboy hats.  The first act ends with “Go, Go, Go Joseph” which is a celebration of Joseph’s release from jail with a full company Go Go (disco) dance routine.  There is even an homage to Bob Fosse with a routine using derby hats and featuring eccentric Fosse choreography.

In the second act, Joseph’s brothers are feeling sorry for themselves in the Parisian Bistro song “Those Canaan Days” followed by a Caribbean song with appropriate dancing to the melody “Benjamin’s Calypso”.  

But the song and the performance that steals the show is the Pharaoh, portrayed by Sean Mette, as Elvis Presley in the rock and roll version of “Song of the King”.  Matte impersonates Elvis well complete with outrageous costume and stereotypical Elvis movements.  The large audience, comprised of many children, were surprised and delighted by the Elvis routine.  

Overall, this is a joyous, exuberant show with, seemingly, all participants thoroughly enjoying their performances.  However, there are many serious themes underlying the frivolity including jealousy, slavery, ambition, power, class differential and despair.

The theme of the “Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is accentuated throughout the show by very colorful costuming, lighting, set design and some clever gimmicks.   The costumes, designed by Cheyenne Harnberg, are an eclectic combination of modern school dress complete with ubiquitous backpacks and a assortment of robes and shawls reminiscent of ancient middle eastern garb.  The highlight is the Coat of Many Colors which is destroyed in the first act but continually reappears as colorful ribbons of fabric used during the dances.  There are also a variety of wigs which add to the humorous dress.

Also adding to the “color” theme is the first act finale which features flashing hula hoops with other cast members wearing blinking lights and a revolving disco light designed by Larry Csernik.

The set design by Doug Stock is simple but effective and evokes the ancient society with a series of Egyptian figures and cartouches painted onto the stage façade.  Another interesting touch are two Egyptian statues of Pharaohs which appear in the second act.  

So, don your most colorful garb and drive your chariot to The Carnegie Theater to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” playing through January 26.

“Joseph” at The Carnegie: Just What Color is ‘Ochre’ Anyway?


Review by Jack Crumley of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”: Carnegie

Joy, jealousy, betrayal, despair, opportunity, redemption, reunion. For a celebratory, rambunctious, and COLORFUL musical like “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” this show has a lot of serious themes just below the surface. It’s the new year, and that means it’s time for The Carnegie’s annual family show. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created the seed of what would become this massive production in 1968. It didn’t hit Broadway until 1982, and would go on to be performed(according to Wikipedia) by more than 20,000 schools and groups by 2008.

This family-friendly story that highlights at least half a dozen genres of music tells the Bible tale of Joseph: a son who was so loved by his father, Jacob, that it made his other siblings so insanely jealous that they faked his death and secretly sold him into slavery. Through a series of subsequent events, Joseph bounces back and finds himself at the right hand of the pharaoh of Egypt right when his family is at their lowest, which leads to a big homecoming and reconciliation. In addition to those earlier-stated themes, this story has heavy overtones of faith and perseverance. There’s also a ton of music (did I mention all the music?).

“Joseph” has hardly any spoken dialogue. This story is told through song after song, and thus it doesn’t run too long. This show flies. And the high-energy songs that make up the bulk of Act I are so catchy, it’s really perfect for younger audiences. Director/choreographer Maggie Perrino and Music Director Spenser Smith really embrace the inherent energy in the script. Along with the audience, a good bulk of the cast, too, is young people. That cast, coupled with the bombardment of color and light give the entire production a fun, almost cartoon-like vibe.

And it’s not just Act I with the memorable songs, though “Jacob & Sons” is an all-time favorite, and “Go, Go, Go Joseph” is such a cheer-worthy, driving tune to set up the intermission. The melodramatic “Those Canaan Days,” the oddly whimsical “Benjamin Calypso,” and the optimistic “Any Dream Will Do” will stay with you long after you’ve left the Carnegie.

This isn’t the kind of show that leaves room for a lot of subtle character work, and it’s fun to be able to sit back and just enjoy all the fun that the cast is clearly having while performing it. From the moment the Narrator changes from leading children on a school field trip into a sparkling, rainbow, showgirl-esque dress, it’s hard to not have as big a smile as the rest of the actors. Tia Seay plays that Narrator, and she belts out every note with positivity and confidence. Frankie Chuter (whom I last saw as Johnny in Carnegie’s “American Idiot” earlier this season) plays the titular Joseph. He brings a straightforward sincerity to the role. He’s also got a crystal clear voice.

The majority of the rest of the cast is made up of guys and girls playing Joseph’s eleven brothers. They all have a great chemistry, and their voices all blend really well. When you see this show, you won’t be able to ignore all the energy that Kyle Taylor is once again delivering. Kyle plays the oldest brother, Reuben, and like so many other shows I’ve seen him in (“Wizard of Oz”, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, and “Annie”), he never stops working in this one. 

Other cast members who got my attention in this show: Kate Stark’s dancing and facial expressions as Mrs Potiphar, and Sean Mette, who’s jovial demeanor I’ve enjoyed watching on stage for years now, gets to BRING IT as an Elvis-inspired Pharaoh. Mette also plays Joseph’s father, Jacob, and his moment of being reunited with his long-thought-dead son was a truly touching moment in a show full of bright lights and big laughs.

Speaking of bright lights, the production team really put in some great work on this show. Taking a cue from Joseph’s brilliant coat, Larry Csernik’s lighting design is an endless rainbow that really makes the relatively small Carnegiestage feel so much larger. Cheyenne Hamberg’s costume design is notable for more than just The Coat, though I thought that main piece of costuming was really smartly cut, making Joseph almost look like Neo from “The Matrix” fell into a vat of melted Skittles (in the best possible way). So much of the costuming had a contemporary feel, not bogged down by being set centuries ago. The Narrator’s dress was beautiful, and the simplicity of white and gold on the members of the ensemble really helped play up how colorful everything else in the show is. Also, the brothers all wear darker, patterned colors, often like camouflage, which highlights how different they are from the hero of the story.

Other than an unusually long intermission on opening night, this jam-packed production didn’t have any big problems, technical or otherwise. You can tell everyone has put a lot of rehearsal time into this production, and the only thing I feel like it was lacking was a live band. All the singing is to a recorded musical track, and while I don’t know where the band could fit on the stage, having that extra element of live performance would’ve made things even better.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at The Carnegie is a blast from the second the curtain goes up to the final bow, and is fully appropriate for audiences of all ages. It runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through January 26, 2020. Tickets are available here.

Wrap Up Your Christmas with CSC’s Hilarious “Every Christmas Story”

Review by Liz Eichler of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some”: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

The Holiday Hits keep coming! Like a Jack in the Box (or a Charlie in the Box) “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)” is a guaranteed laugh. Audience interaction is half of what makes this show a special annual treat. The comic genius of your CSC resident pros wraps this up as a Holiday Must See. In case the title doesn’t give it away, this is a show about 3 actors (and drunk Santa); one wants to put on a production of “A Christmas Carol” while the others argue there are other great holiday classics worth portraying on stage. They perform iconic snippets and ridiculous mashups that will raise your spirits and bring good cheer.

Billy Chace is the comedic backbone of CSC. Fresh off playing Falstaff in “Merry Wives of Windsor,” Chace knows how to work a crowd. Someone does something unusual in the crowd—watch out! You’re fair game for a good-humored joke. If Chase is the backbone, Justin McCombs the rib tickler. Physical comedy is his shtick, from making fun of his dad bod, to his timing of all sorts of silliness. Miranda McGee is hysterical as drunk Santa, happy to sit on your lap. Lounging in her sleigh (with multiple parking violations) she’s watching you throughout the show–while enjoying quite a few Fosters. Maggie Lou Rader (recently Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tim Roof”) is the straight woman, showing us her funny side as the Grinch (or is it a T Rex?) and so many more. CSC Drinking Game: drink every time Maggie says “Marley was dead,” as she tries to get the gang refocused on her ultimate Christmas Classic.

Directed by Jeremy Dubin, written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, there’s a nod to every holiday classic of your childhood (Charlie Brown, Chipmunks, Elf, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, etc.) with some current and local nods (Baby Yoda), Cincinnati’s Blink, and of course, Kentucky. Justin Locke as Scenic and Lighting Designer has had some fun of his own, enveloping the audience in every Christmas decoration and then some. Abbi Howson’s costumes are festive, bright, and fun.

There’s a lot of hot holiday tickets out there, and this is one of the hottest. Bring your office buddies, your adult children, but leave the young kids home, have some cheer at the bar and get ready for a great 2 hours of laughter in “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some)”. Playing only through December 29, many shows are sold out. Contact www.cincyshakes.com or call 513-381-BARD.

Covedale’s “Miracle” Makes You Believe

Review By Liz Eichler of “Miracle on 34th Street”: Covedale Theatre

Covedale keeps their audiences happy by providing great shows they want to see.  What better show to get you into the holiday spirit than “A Miracle on 34th Street,” presented now through December 29, directed by Tim Perrino, who ensures you will be dazzled and warm with holiday cheer.  

From the youngest tot, to Santa himself, you will see a cast full of people excited to tell the story that, despite our lack of belief (and even a trial) Santa is real (I know, I know, I know).

The musical, which begins with the Macy’s parade, and goes up from there, was written in 1963 by Meredith Wilson (“The Music Man”) who realized how much we love a parade. So right from the beginning you’re treated to the brilliant reds, golds and whites of a marching band, and jolly green and yellow clowns.  The crisp front lighting and jewel tone costumes will dazzle you from beginning to end. There’s another exciting display at the end of Act 1, a dream parade, as well. 

“Miracle” is the story of Susie Walker and her mother Doris, who’s strong, practical, independent, and realistic world view is tested by meeting both a man named Kris Kringle who claims he is Santa, and new neighbor Fred, a friendly military man now lawyer looking for his first case. 

Nora Darnell is sweet and strong as young Susan Walker.  Kelsey Chandler brings strength, power, and warmth in acting and voice to Doris Walker, manager of the Macy’s parade and Christmas extravaganza. Elliot Handkins (Fred Gally) has a gift of physical humor. Just try to resist smiling when Jamie Steele (Kris Kringle) is on stage.  Aaron Marshall (Shellhammer) is hysterical, maybe even channeling Charles Nelson Reilly. Peter Cutler (R.H. Macy) has presence and pipes. Justin Glaser (D.A. Thomas Mara) is strong enough to make you wonder who will win the Act 2 trial, presided over by impressive Judge Martina (Julia Hasl Miller).

What a joy to showcase such talented ensemble with amazing voices and strong dancers. The crisp front lighting (Denny Reed) and jewel tone costumes (Caren Brady) will dazzle you from beginning to end. 

Shout outs to ready-for-Broadway “new clerks” (sadly uncredited in the program): Cassidy Steele, and I think Hope Pauly and Savannah Boyd (but maybe MacKenzie Kasbaum?). These adorable “new clerks” bring a GenZ vibe to the clueless newbies as they sing to sell you plastic alligators. They deserve their own musical. Or at least a Fringe show.

The full ensemble includes a bevy of sparkling children and great singers and dancers: Cory Blake, Fiona Blanchet, Gabe Darnell (who will win your hearts!), Randolph Geers, Mackenzie Kasbaum (who also has a lovely song as the little Dutch girl), Lily Larsen, Natalie Lorenz, Grace Martin, Matthew Rottinghaus, and Mia Zink. 

Music Director Greg Dastillung, Choreographer Karie Lee Sutherland, and Scenic Designer Brett Bowling have created this vibrant world where the characters exude holiday spirit. 

A few standout numbers are “Big Clown Balloons,” “You Don’t Know,” “That Man Over There,” “Here’s Love” and “Plastic Alligator.” The strength of these will allow you to forgive some of the moments that, as written, are a bit choppy.

Strong leads and a strong chorus hold up this show, based on the 1947 20th Century Fox Motion Picture, leaving you with holiday warmth, despite a few plot and writing issues that raise an eyebrow from a 21st century audience. 

For tickets call 513-241-6550.