Originally written by Dylan Thomas as a BBC radio script, and only published after his untimely death at the age of 39 in 1954, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” has become a perennial Christmas time favorite.
It is fitting that The Irish Rep under the direction of Charlotte Moore has staged this charming story of a young boy’s memories of Christmas with five extremely talented ensemble singers to present this poetic tale interwoven here with traditional songs of Christmas – some more well known than others – as a special holiday musical gift, exquisitely wrapped up with Christmas trees aglow with twinkling lights, a shiny ebony grand piano and voices that swell in praise of this sweet, nostalgic and cozy story by Mr. Thomas.
When life was more simple and you could enjoy the sounds and smells of the holiday, the vast amounts of snow in the small village located on the coast of Wales, where relatives would convene on Christmas Eve to eat, smoke cigars, drink tea with some rum and take a snooze soon thereafter we hear in the wonderful written voice of Dylan Thomas – his fine, delicate and specific words to describe these events.
Under the astute musical direction of John Bell, songs have been added that make the story sparkle with the spirit of Christmas. However, the static and unimaginative staging distracts from the overall beauty of the piece. Why have chairs when no one sits and then when they finally sit why have them riveted to them when clearly the actors are aching to be released – to get up and bring more life to the festive event?
Scruffy Ashley Robinson, looking eerily like Mr. Thomas captures his spirit throughout, has a fine voice and comic sense. Kerry Conte has a beautiful soprano and looks resplendent in her red dress as does Victoria Mallory who has been absent from the New York stage for far too long. Broadway leading man Martin Vidnovic’s voice booms with his inherent charm delighting the audience from every angle. Mr. Simon Jones, looking elegant and dapper, is at his professional best as usual.
From the off stage opening of “Deck the Halls” sung both in English and Welsh to “All Through the Night” (a song I first heard and sang and loved when I was a young lad of six) to the amusing “I Don’t Want A Lot For Christmas” and “Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake” and the spectacular version of “Silent Night” you will be able to relax and reminisce.
As an encore, the cast will treat you to a medley of “Favorites” which is the icing on the cake. So “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and enjoy this production at The Irish Rep which only runs through January 2nd. www.irishrep.org Photo: Carol Rosegg