"CHRISTMAS ON THE ROCKS"

BONNIE GOLDBERG

It's that time of year again to belly up to the bar on that most sentimental of nights, Christmas Eve, for some liquid refreshment and holiday cheer. Not everyone is eager to celebrate this special day on the calendar and December 25th can be a royal challenge for many. Consider for a moment characters you loved as a child like Tiny Tim and Clara of the Nutcracker fame and good old Charlie Brown. How have they fared over the years?  Are they still struggling with their personal demons or is life now rosy as they achieve adulthood? Come and see for yourself.

Hartford TheaterWorks is once again inviting your favorite Christmas characters to tell their tales of wonder or woe in its unique holiday showpiece "Christmas on the Rocks" playing until Friday, December 23. Plan to fill your stocking with silliness and good cheer as many of your best buds from childhood enter a bar on Christmas Eve to celebrate or to wallow in their melancholy.

Matthew Wilkas, Jenn Harris and Ronn Carroll are all up to the challenge of creating this bevy of beauties who may be years away from the fates you might have imagined for them. Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero has conceived and directed this original medley of vignettes and it is now a tradition at 233 Pearl Street, Hartford for the holidays. Seven area playwrights have contributed their jolly takes on boys like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" who only wanted a BB gun for Christmas even if his mom was sure he would shoot his eye out. When he walks into the bar with an eye patch, you can only assume the worst. In "All Grown Up" by John Carini, we revisit Ralphie's iconic pink bunny pajamas and his dad's favorite lady leg lamp.

For Jonathan Tolins, the question of whether Santa Claus really exists is still heavy on the mind of Sue from "Miracle on 34th Street" as she continues to doubt his existence in "The Cane in the Corner." Even though she is a successful real estate broker, Sue is unsure if that jolly man does or ever did exist.

For Jeffrey Hatcher, the fate of one of Santa's elves is sitting on the shelf for consideration. What if you are an elf who doesn't want to make toys and feels unfit for the green and red outfit but just wants to belong in "Say It Glows." Did you ever wonder what happened to Cindy Lou Who who may or may not have ever recovered from her encounter with that disagreeable character answering to the name of The Grinch? Matthew Lombardo is tackling that question in his hysterical "Going Green" that provides some unexpected answers.

What of Tiny Tim? Does he still need a crutch? Has he reconciled with the crabby and cranky Mr. Scrooge? Theresa Rebeck reveals all in "God Bless Us Every One." Edwin Sanchez devotes his writing skills to a conflicted Clara who used to dance and flit around the Nutcracker but is now experiencing marital doubts in "Still Nuts About Him." Can she trust her czar of love?

For a little sentimental touch, come circle the floor with Jacques Lamarre's choice of dance partner Charlie Brown in "Merry Christmas, Blockhead." Now he is the psychiatrist/coach/love counselor for Charlie and the little red haired girl of his youth who still envelopes his heart..

This year a new member has been added to the parade. Come see who shows up for another present of winter fun.

For tickets ($30-65), call Hartford TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-526-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  Special performances Friday,December 23 are at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Come early and enjoy a viewing of photos in the art gallery upstairs.

For a cynical, quirky and sentimental look at Christmases past, let "Christmas on the Rocks" serve you a flavorful cocktail of tasty potent potables

* Contact Us * Designed by Rokoco Designs * © 2008 CCC *
CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE