Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Gifts of The Magi"

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entire contents copyright 1998 by Don Gillis

Gifts of The Magi

Directed by Carol Varden
Producer - Pamela Jackson
Musical Director - Michael Savignac

Stage Manager - Michele Pinault
Set Design - J. Robert LeClair
Set Construction - Victor S. Turenne, Peter Babiec, Lee Hakeem, Brian Mulvey Set Painting - Andrew Bobola, Sr-Jr, Pam Jackson, Emily Varden, Judi Saunders, Mary Varden
Lighting Design - Scott and Linda Brown
Assistant Ligthing Design - Vincent Lupino, Lee Saunders
Costumes - Doreen Cabral
Props - Sandra Bobola
Wig Dresser - Pam Jackson, Marcia Zararelli
Set Crew - Stephanie Bobola, Andrew Bobola, Jr.
Publicity - Karen Gail Kessler

Pawtucket Community Players holiday musical "Gifts of The Magi" opened Saturday night, and delighted the audience with a fresh, presentation of an old classic by O. Henry. The story centers on Jim and Della Dillingham, who find themselves without any money to buy each other a Christmas gift. They are both out of work. They both have precious possessions, he, a pocket watch which is a family heirloom- she, only her beautiful locks of long shoulder length hair. To show their love for one another, both decide to sell these precious possessions to purchase each other a Christmas gift.

"Christmas" opens this show, sung by Simone Gianfrancesco, a student at St. Mary's Bayview. The ensemble, with City Him ( Frank Dempsey) and City Her (Margarita Dempsey) sing "Star of the Night". Willy (Andrews G. Bobola), a newspaper/ narrator, enters selling his newspapers on the streets in New York. Andrew sings "Gifts of the Magi" and if you never heard it, you probably will be humming it at the end, because it is repeated at the end of the show . Andrew is a talented director, singer, actor and (he choreographs too). He was excellent in his musical numbers, and he really keeps the shows pace as the narrator. He has all the tough songs (with the exception of "Greed" ) which the Company sings). Andrew shines in this production!. The music, by the way, is a little bit like "Stephen Sondheim", if you know his music, however, it was written by Randy Courts and Mark St. German. City Him and Her also are talented singers and actors, and keep the show interesting by changing characters though out the play. Frank and Margarita Dempsey do an excellent portrayal of the characters, and they are also talented singers.

Chris Maxwell (Jim) does a fine job as the husband who is trying to support his wife Della played by Leslie Choquette. Jim was last seen on our stage in Sweet Charity which was quite a few years ago. He sings "How Much To Buy My Dream" with a pleasant voice and genuine acting. Leslie Choquette as Della was a joy to watch and listen too. She has the stage presence necessary for her character portrayal, and her voice is pleasant. I especially liked "The Same Girl" , which was her solo number.

Tony Prichard was last seen by this reviewer in "Mame" . Tony plays Soapy, the bum, who is constantly trying to get arrested, so he can sleep in a warm jail. However, his efforts are fruitless. I think that this is Tony's best performance that I have seen him in to date. His number "Bum Luck", with Jim, is a catchy tune and they are delightful to watch. The dance was done very well. Rounding out this cast, is the ensemble, consisting of Pam Jackson (who also produced the show), John Ricci, and Simone Gianfrancesco.

Walk on appearances were made by Andrew Bobola's son, and you have to look quick, but Michele Pinault, (Stage Manager) is on stage! ( A rarity for her!).

Musical Director, Michael Savignac is a newcomer to The Community Players, and his credits are too numerous to list here. I will mention that Michael is an alumnus of the Berklee College of Music and he has done a superb job with the music for this show. I know he was instrumental in making this musical a success.

And last, but certainly not least, is Director Carol Varden who is making her directorial debut with The Community Players. You may remember her as the Mother Superior in "Nunsense" last November (directed by yours truly). Carol has done an excellent job of putting all of this together, and the result is a wonderful, entertaining, different type of show for the holiday season. Do come and see this one.

"The Giftis of TheMagi" ( till 13 December)
THE COMMUNITY PLAYERS OF PAWTUCKET
Jenks Junior High School Auditorium, Division Street, awtucket, rhode island
1 (401) 726-6860
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