CENTERVILLE — CenterPoint Legacy Theatre is offering a festive Christmas Carol Celebration, We Need a Lot of Christmas, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through December 18. The production consists of some of CenterPoint’s finest performers gathered together to bring some holiday cheer during a year that has been anything but cheerful.
Directed and music directed by Maurie Tarbox, the evening starts out with the full company singing a song from the film Polar Express. The first thing I noticed was the lovely costume choices by Laurie Oswald. The dresses that the women were wearing were festive and fun, with the beginning dresses and men’s dapper outfits slightly unique but still uniform and inviting to the eye. For the last few numbers, the cast changed into lovely green dresses for the women and tuxedos with plaid vests that were very dashing for the men. This costuming combined with the set designed by Truxton Moulton made for a truly festive evening.
The second number of the evening was, “We Need a Little Christmas,” a holiday classic introduced in the Broadway musical Mame and brought to life in the performance by Annie Ferrin. Ferrin made me long for a full production of Mame (seriously, why doesn’t anyone do Mame anymore?), because of her impeccable tone and unmatchable enthusiasm that could get any Grinch excited for the holidays.
Speaking of the Grinch, yes, he makes a cameo, as well as the classics like White Christmas, “The Christmas Song,” “Silver Bells,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and more. I was also treated to some new(ish) Christmas magic, from shows like Elf and Catch Me if You Can, and lesser known but probably some of the best, such as, “12 Days til Christmas,” from She loves Me.
Of course, the highlight for me may have been when the Paul Dixon started his solo from the Muppets Christmas Carol, and then the full company came out with their own puppets to sing a few songs from the movie that I have been known to argue may actually be not only the best Christmas movie, but also the best movie of all time. It was a highly welcome addition to any celebration of Christmas.
When Jana Plowman sang the classic, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” from Meet Me in St. Louis, I was truly struck by the relatability of a song written for a film in 1944. Sitting distanced in an audience with a mask on my face, watching performers who have been careful to maintain their own safety, the words, “from now on our troubles will be out of sight,” certainly take on a new meaning.
CenterPoint has worked to ensure safety of the cast, crew, and audience. There is a mask requirement, distance between ticketed groups, and the cast wears face shields whenever there are more than two on stage and they are in close proximity. The program is available digitally, and there are announcements reminding the audience that in accordance with the government regulations, the audience should leave the building quickly after the performance.
Feeling the holiday spirit has been difficult this year. Many have experienced loss, whether it be work, way of life, or loss of loved ones. Normally by this time, I would have seen numerous productions, gone to numerous parties, and enjoyed numerous festivities. I did not know what to expect with We Need A Lot of Christmas. In some ways it is hard to find joy and pleasure these days, and we in the arts worry that the challenges we are facing are having a lasting effect on all we hold dear. But as the great Muppets teach, and as I felt when the cast sang, it is true, “wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.” I think that CenterPoint did a fine job finding a safe way to bring in some Christmas spirit.