If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

Holiday Plays -- Christmas on the Rocks

Two theatres, two holiday traditions return. The theatres are both in Hartford and their holiday offerings couldn’t be more diverse: one classic Christmas the other seasonal yet cynical. Both are worth seeing.

For the third consecutive year, the always-edgy TheaterWorks returns with its original production, “Christmas on the Rocks”. Conceived and directed by Rob Ruggiero and comprised of seven short plays by various authors, the concept here is to re-visit classic holiday characters that have grown older, if not any wiser or happier. They include Tiny Tim of “A Christmas Carol”, Cindy Lou Who from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and Charlie Brown from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. As in any compilation from a variety of authors, there are some plays that are definitely stronger, funnier and more memorable than others. The odds of having a good time at “Christmas on the Rocks”, however, are still quite high.

The show itself has improved immeasurably from that first season and new actors Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas bring great variety, humor and some pathos to the several characters they play. Veteran Ronn Carroll completes the small company in the role of a bartender who greets and serves each character as a new play begins. Especially memorable is Wilkas as a grown and tipsy “Hermey”, the elf from “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, in the comical gem, “Say It Glows” by Jeffrey Hatcher. Basically an extended monologue, Wilkas doesn’t miss a comical beat as the outrageous gay dentist dishing the dirt on what really went on behind-the-scenes with Clarice, Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius. Jenn Harris is also excellent playing the rhyming and inebriated Cindy Lou Who in “Going Green” by Matthew Lombardo as well as the bitter, lovesick Clara from “The Nutcracker” in Edwin Sanchez’s “Still Nuts About Him”.

“Christmas on the Rocks” continues at TheaterWorks through December 23. For further information and ticket reservations, call the theatre box office at 860.527.7838 or visit: www.theaterworkshartford.org. “

Tom Holehan is one of the original founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

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