‘Christmas Time’ Delivers A Family Oriented Traditional Christmas Show (Four Stars)
“Christmas Time” presented by the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street, Waltham through December 16th. Starring Sarah Pfisterer and Rick Hilsabeck.
If you’re looking for a traditional and family-oriented Christmas show to get you in the holiday spirit, the Reagle Players in Waltham have just the thing for you. “Christmas Time” combines a pair of Broadway players with some talented locals and delivers a collection of holiday tunes and some terrific production numbers in a pageant that could have been produced in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s with a couple of minor changes. Which is a compliment, as any Lady Gaga/Madonna/Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour style numbers would have distorted the tone of this solid family show. Edgy it’s not, but that’s what irreverent productions like “The Slutcracker” and “Rudolph the Red-Necked Reindeer (reviewed here last week) are for. The show has a massive cast that incorporates the kids from the area in many numbers, so it’s pretty darn adorable, too.
The show’s opening number is a less well-known Christmas tune, “The Most Wonderful Birthday of All” where Broadway import Sarah Pfisterer uses her operatically-trained voice to celebrate the birth of Christ. The scene shifts to New York, where the cast belts out Christmas standards “Happy Holidays” and “White Christmas” with the aid of the other Broadway ringer, Rick Hilsabeck (the offstage husband of Pfisterer). In keeping with the theme of the show the Broadway talent blends in with, rather than dominates, the production. Following some very cute numbers with the kids in “Santa’s Workshop”, the action shifts back to a Victorian era Boston Common for a rendition of “Christmas Day.”
The show incorporates elements of a number of other traditional Christmas shows, including “The Nutcracker” which is cleverly delivered by a cast of Teddy Bears. There is a seemingly endless supply of new ways to deliver Christmas song and dance numbers, as evidenced by a barbershop quartet, dancing Christmas trees, singing shoppers, Kermit the Frog, and a big production number set in Yolanda’s (the now-closed women’s apparel store). The first act closes with the kids in the audience being brought up on stage to sing “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.
The second half of the show dispenses with the kids and lets the grownups do the entertaining. There are some very professionally choreographed and executed dance numbers, including a version of ‘The March of the Wooden Soldiers” borrowed from the Rockette’s (with their blessing, of course) as well as some well-sung versions of Christmas classics like “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” (complete with bell ringers); the Beach Boys “Little Saint Nick”, and a standout version of “Little Drummer Boy/Do You Hear What I Hear by the chorus of singers. The show concludes with a very impressive and uplifting version of “The Nativity”, which pulls out all of the Broadway special effects for maximum effect.
The costumes are impressive – from the period pieces to the dance numbers to the little kids dressed as Santa’s Helpers – and the orchestra supports the production well. This is the 30th production of this show put on by Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston. In addition to the Broadway talent, the multi-generational cast includes soloists Jean Grace of Belmont; Greta DiGiorgio of Jamaica Plain; Paul Marchesiani of Stoneham; Buddy Bergeron of Waltham; and Jean-Alfred Chavier of West Roxbury. Marchesiani, Chavier, Gary Vincent of Bedford and Herb Philpott of Waltham also make up Reagle’s close-harmony barbershop quartet. Featured dancers are Waltham High School freshman Brianna Maguire as Clara and Scott Abreu of Waltham as the Bear Captain.
Productions don’t come much more traditional or homespun than this, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (say hipsters – who only drink coffee anyway), it certainly delivers for a family-oriented audience.
For more information, see www.reagletheatre.org.