Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Christmas Memories at Reagle"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Beverly Creasey

Christmas Memories at Reagle

by Beverly Creasey

You know Christmas has arrived when The Reagle Players present their annual Holiday Show --- an extravaganza of dancing bears, breathtaking tableaux and even a Hallelujah Chorus --- all called appropriately enough" ChristmasTime".

Bob Eagle and company pull out all the stops to delight theater-goers of every age. For the youngsters he corrals over sixty tiny tots dressed in Pjs (off and on stage in a flash) to sing Santa's praises --- and there's even a Teddy Bear Nutcracker to amaze and charm the child in all of us. Just imagine a Koala Sugar plum Fairy Bear on pointe! Kermit The Frog even puts in an appearance.

For the guys in the audience who might have been coerced into going to "ChristmasTime" Eagle ushers out a dozen leggy high kickers, Rockette-style, to remind us of Radio City.

For nostalgia, there's an old fashioned Barbershop Quartet, clever Currier & Ives "etched" winter scenes --- designed by Robert Moody --- and if you miss the '60s you'll love what the male members do --- in Beach Boys style, with Rusty Russell, and Buddy Bergeron looking more like Brian Wilson than Wilson --- for one of the best giggles in the show. Another chuckle comes from Aurelie McCarthy as a prissy schoolmarm with a straight line of little girls who misbehave when she turns her back.

This year's production has been streamlined --- in fact it moves so fast you wonder how the chorus has any breath left at intermission. Imagine a Hallelujah Chorus at double its usual speed!

Reagle is famous for its tableaux, especially the Nativity: while a narrator reads from the Biblical text about the "shepherds watching their flocks by night" we see shepherds enter the scene. Each element of a Renaissance nativity painting comes together before our eyes.. It's then lit "from within" like the chiaroscuro technique of the masters --- all designed by David Wilson. Quite a remarkable sight.

From Julia Liu's clever counterpoint arrangements ("Do You Hear What I Hear" & "The Little Drummer Boy") and Jeffrey Leonard's crisp orchestra to Susan Chebookjian's ingenious choreography to Natalie Durkin's and Gayle Sullivan's spectacular costumes, this "ChristmasTime" hits all the holiday marks.

"Christmas Time" (till 13 December)
Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street, WALTHAM

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide