Whatever Happened to the Christmas Kids?
By Karen Isaacs
Have you ever wondered if Ralphie from A Christmas Story did shoot his eye out? Or did Tiny Tim become a sweet and loving adult? Or perhaps you are curious about an adult Cindy Lou Who.
TheaterWorks in Hartford is satisfying your curiosity with the world premier of Christmas on the Rocks running through Dec. 22
The premise is clever. Imagine children from famous Christmas stories as adults and place them in, as the programs states, a local bar "in a lonely corner of the cosmos" on Christmas Eve,
Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero called on seven playwrights whose work has graced the TheaterWorks stage to each write a scene in what he calls "an offbeat collection of twisted holiday tails."
As can be expected the seven vary in tone -- from the sweetly comedic to the very broad -- and also vary in their success. Which ones are your favorites will depend on your level of cynicism and you preference for either sweet or broad comedy.
Harry Bouvy and Christine Pedi play the now adult characters and Ronn Carroll provides the continuity as the bartender.
So who do we see as adults? The show opens with Ralphie from A Christmas Story entering the bar in both a touching and comedic scene by John Cariani. He is followed by the now adult, Susan from A Miracle on 34th Street was returned to her cynical ways before she too recaptures some of the wonder of youth. Jonathan Tolins created this scene.
Then we move to the broader comedy with Herbie the elf from one of the versions of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Written by Jeffrey Hatcher, it took me a bit to figure out who the character was; the piece seemed both "over the top" and too broad but the audience loved it. Cindy Lou Who as the ex-wife of the Grinch enters the bar next in a scene by Matthew Lombardo about her broken marriage.
An adult Tiny Tim is pragmatic in the scene written by Theresa Rebeck; he calls Scrooge schizophrenic and the need for health care over-rated. Even his "God Bless Us Everyone" sounds cynical. Also cynical is Maria from the Nutcracker who decries the ageless handsomeness for her Prince who seems to have attraction for her brother; but yet she runs home to fix in dinner when he texts her in a scene written by Edwin Sanchez.
The evening ends with a sweet piece by Jacques Lamarre about Charlie Brown and the little red-headed girl. It strikes just right notes and truly captures the Peanuts gang. It and the opening scene were my favorites.
Bouvy and Pedi move easily between the characters they play, and manage to capture the style and essence of each.
So if you've ever wondered what happened to Cindy Lou Who, or did the fairy tale of Maria and the Nutcracker end happily or even if you wondered about Ralphie, his BB gun and his family, you will find Christmas on the Rocks an enjoyable 90 minutes.
Christmas on the Rocks is at TheaterWorks Hartford, 233 Pearl St. in downtown Hartford, through Dec. 22. For tickets and information call 860-527-7838 or online at theaterworkshartford.org.
This review appears in Shore Publishing Community Newspapers December 18, 2013 and online at Zip06.com.