Overwhelmed with a lack of personal holiday spirit? In need of Fa for your La? Look no further than Casa Mañana Children’s Theatre’s holiday offering, Santa Claus - A New Musical. Developed by Noah Putterman, Casa Mañana’s Director of Theatre for Youth, and with music and lyrics by David Christensen and Luke Holloway, this toe-tapping joyous musical extravaganza is sure to rank among your family’s favorite holiday traditions.
Santa Claus (played by himself...of course!) announces that he’s retiring after 1,000 years, and the search is on to fill his boots. How Casa Mañana was able to get the jolly old elf and his dear wife to star in the show, I will never know. Effervescent and kind, it’s clear that the duo have a great deal of love not only for the children of the world but also for each other. Their relationship in a time of change and growth provides some of the most poignant moments in the show and allows Santa Claus to succeed not only as a children’s theatre piece but as an experience for all ages. Adult ensemble members Greg Dulcie and Deborah Brown serve as a wonderful support to the Clauses.
Henchy the elf (Zak Reynolds) is dumbfounded when he realizes that he isn’t even being considered for the next Father Christmas. Reynolds’ brilliant physicality and vocal range throughout the show makes him an audience favorite as we realize how low he will go to sabotage the new St. Nick. You’ll find yourself drawn to his vivid facial expressions as he devolves into a villain à la Rumpelstiltskin. Still, Children take comfort in the idea that no matter how bad his choices are, he is still redeemable in the spirit of Christmas.
Nick (James Chandler) along with his daughter Beatrice (Josie Dawn) are delivered to the North Pole to begin training. We all know how they feel: Yearning to make a good impression, they find the training strenuous and frustrating. You can’t help but cheer for them as they face each challenge together growing closer along the way.
Tenchy (Monique Abry), Punchy (Laura Wetsel), and Chirpy (Ayanna Edwards) round out the adult cast with boundless energy and perfect harmonies as they make the North Pole ready for the next Christmas and aid in Nick’s training.
Kitschy and fun, the show visually delights. Your kids will be oohing and aahing about the buttons, bells, and whistles of the North Pole, set designed by Bob Lavallee before the actors sing a single note. There will be cheers for Santa’s sleigh! And the whimsical elves are made all the more magical by Tammy Spencer’s costumes and Catherine Petty Rogers’ wigs and make-up. The ladies’ elf boots can only be described as fetching.
Keep your eyes open for the reindeer and elf ensembles, played by the youngest cast members. They provide plenty of “awww” factor and give your own young aspiring actors the idea that they too can perform on the Casa Mañana stage.
The show’s musical numbers bring show-stopper after show-stopper with my favorites being “Somebody Like Me,” “Jingle Jam,” and “What Would Santa Do?” Brooke Wendle’s frolicking choreography will make you yearn to join the elves.
Back by popular demand for a second year, I hope to can make it a part of my family’s holiday traditions for many years to come.