So Leaving the theatre after Another Miracle on Christmas Lake, I turns to the wife and I sez, “So Micky, Whatcha think of dat der show?” And Micky, well ya know she turns ta me and sez, “Yah, dat was pretty good. What about you, Did you enjoy da show?” Well I said, “Yah sure, you betcha I did, it was real good, real good.” and Micky agreed, she said “Yah”, and then for good measure so as not to seem wishy washy added “Real good.” To reassure her that we were on the same page and our marriage was still on solid ground I added, “Real good.” Because a lot can happen in two hours and you don’t always want to assume things. I knew a guy once who went out ice fishing after lunch one Saturday and when he came back for dinner, his wife had packed her bag and gone to her mothers. I asked him why she went and did that, he had no idea. They hadn’t fought or anything. They’d had their lunch as peaceful as anything. When he finished his tomato soup and grilled cheese, he got up from the table, kissed her, and headed to the ice house. Just same as he did with every free minute he had once the lake froze over every year. But when he came home, she had packed up, taken their new baby, and headed to his mother-in-laws. So you know, there’s no tellin’ sometimes what can happen in a just a few hours.
One thing you can be certain of is having a lot of laughs and a heck of a good time at Yellow Tree Theatre’s Another Miracle on Christmas Lake. The play was written by the cofounder of Yellow Tree Theatre Jessica Lind Peterson. There are several different plot threads in the play. Colin and Tess are trying to mount a Christmas play during a Goat Flu outbreak, which has laid up most of the town and left them without a cast. The Goat Flu has also hit the town hard financially as they rely on tourism economically. Without the tourists dollars this year, the town will again fall short of their budget and likely be annexed by the neighboring town of Potterton. Which will also lead to a chemical plant being built in Christmas Lake, and as we all know, chemicals will melt your face. But all is not bleak. To town comes a Hollywood Location Scout, Stefan, who brings with him the hope that they might choose Christmas Lake to film a remake of It’s a Wonderful Life. The dollars from such a project would save the town from annexation and the chemical plant. Add to all of this a love square between Stefan, local sweethearts Martha and Neil, and the volunteer Police Chief Gunther, who lives with his mother. What is it about Martha that drives all three of these men to vie for her affection? Is it her lizard or her tater tot hotdish?
A show like this with a script that’s full of dumb humor but in a very smart way succeeds or fails on it’s cast. The cast is up to the task. Antonio Duke as Colin and Sophina Saggau who has stepped in for the original actress as Tess play the straight roles. Duke is at his best reacting to the far crazier characters whirling about him. You wouldn’t have guessed that Saggau wasn’t onboard from the start, she fits right in. She and Duke have a chemistry that felt surprisingly real for such a silly show. There is a sexual spark between them not of the hot and heavy type but of the sweet, married, but still like to be a little naughty variety that’s much more interesting in real life. It added something unique and special to these straight person roles. Jason Ballweber who plays three distinct characters is great, and the thing is you almost don’t realize how great until his third character comes on and then you replay the three roles in your head, it’s quietly impressive. Lisa Vogel and Ryan Nelson as Martha and Neil both excel at voice work. Vogel nails the comedic over the top Minnesotan accent. Nelson’s Neil is under the impression that acting is doing impressions. So when they perform the Christmas play we get him doing a spot on Peter Griffin from Family Guy and a pretty good Christopher Walken. They both save their biggest surprise for the final moments of the play. Finally, Michael Quadrozzi who plays Stefan as a force of nature who blows into town as if he just stepped out of a cartoon. A Hollywood blowhard by way of bedrock. His wardrobe by Costume Designer Samantha Fromm Haddow as well as his hair combined with his fantastically broken, yet fully understandable english to create a hilariously memorable character. Stefan’s fight on stage with Neil, is one of the highlights of the show, brilliantly executed by both actors.
The playbill tells me it’s the sequel to Miracle on Christmas Lake, which I have not seen. I don’t think it is necessary to have seen its predecessor. I was able to follow the plot and figure out who everyone was and what was happening. I suppose it’s possible that I would have found deeper themes, a richer sense of the characters. Perhaps a subtextual meditation on gender roles and the suppression of the “self”, but I doubt it. It seemed fairly straightforward to me. I don’t think there was anything deeper going on, I think this was meant to entertain and bring joy. Sometimes that’s all we want or need. Something to make us laugh together and take our minds off work, Christmas shopping, the bad play we saw last week or the wife who has taken our six week old daughter and moved back home to her mother’s house.
Another Miracle on Christmas Lake runs through January 2nd 2022 for more information and to purchase tickets click here https://yellowtreetheatre.com/