Reviewed by Gillian Daniels
(Waltham, MA) The Reagle Theatre, for its Christmas pageant, does not settle on a few simple scenes followed by the solemn Nativity.
This production takes its audience to as many locales as possible: a Cathedral interior, Santa’s workshop, a busy Victorian street, and a digest version of the Nutcracker performed almost completely by ballet dancers in teddy bear suits. Christmas Time is energetic, all-encompassing, and exhausting in its depiction of the holiday.
Sets, choreography, and costumes are exquisitely detailed. One particular set piece, a shop called Yolanda’s, is utilized for the song “Twelve Days to Christmas.” Shoppers fly in and out of the store, each occupied with their own agendas, texting on phones and sometimes secretly shoplifting. The economic chaos of the holiday is handled with a gentle cynicism.
Much more lavish are the numbers that include the dancers who, among other numbers, perform the memorable “Parade of Wooden Soldiers” with the permission of the Radio City Music Hall.
Christmas Time hits broad, appealing to as many family members as it can. One part involves the children in the audience being invited on stage to sing “Jingle Bells” with the cast. I suggest using this section of the play to measure your tolerance for the more child-oriented themes, though even the most hard-boiled Grinch may find the cameo by a singing Kermit the Frog heartwarming.
The play is sweet and, for the most part, inoffensive, though the racial flavoring of the bears in the Nutcracker scene is a bit strange. Christmas Time is inviting, though, and over-the-top in its holiday entertainment.
All the secular distractions culminate in a bright, dreamy Nativity scene. The ending has angels, wise men, and shepherds stand behind gauzy screens, giving the effect of a series of paintings. It’s a lovely sight and, if one is interested, I suggest acting quickly in purchasing tickets before the production ends.