Bob Klein in Help Santa Save Christmas
Help Santa Save Christmas
Script, casting, & rehearsal directio by Bill Baker
Video concept, direction, & production by Mike R. Price
A review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Help Santa Save Christmas is exactly what it sounds like, a simple but charming story for children about how old St. Nick might go about pulling off his most challenged Christmas Eve delivery. So many more children have been good this year that the toys will exceed the sleigh’s capacity by 20% and Santa and his senior staff of elves are searching for creative solutions.
At one point SR (Sleigh Ride Elf) looks directly at the audience and asks if some of the good children would like to volunteer to receive a lump of coal this year so as to reduce the volume and weight, so clearly, the North Pole crew needs some help.
Bill Baker’s script is clever enough for all ages but is squarely aimed at kids without patronizing them. Of course, holiday stories for children often play to adults because we want to reconnect to childhood. The inclusion of a B plot involving Santa’s reindeer never quite jells the way the elves do, but I suppose they are an inevitable part of North Pole preparations in the days leading up to December 24.
There are also some moral lessons about minding your parents and avoiding too much time looking at digital screens, but the platitudes are leavened by Santa’s self-awareness of how his image is changing along with the rest of the world. His problems sound an awful lot like ours,
The most striking thing about this video production is the effective use of digitally illustrated scenic design, effectively creating a storybook setting that operates in three dimesnions. The costumes perfectly match the surroundings and while the staging of the characters’ movement makes sense, the use of green screen compositing undoubtedly allowed for COVID protocols to keep cast and crew safe. A few outtakes included at the end provide a reassuring behind the scenes glimpse of the process.
All of which makes Help Santa Save Christmas more like a television production than a stage play, even if the “set” looks like it would fit neatly inside of the Little Colonel Playhouse, which it would have most likely have been running if not for pandemic restrictions. Bob Klein is a hearty, avuncular Santa Claus, striving to remain upbeat in the face of so many obstacles including being nearly hidden by the traditional wreath of costume white hair and beard. Shannon Watts was a delight as SR, with a little touch of Rachel Dratch in her melancholic delivery. Martha Frazier as TR (Toy Workshop Elf) and Bekah Abersold as FE (Finance Elf) worked best as sort of a comedy team, while Brandon Fouch and Christine O’Hara were good as reindeers Rudolph and Dancer, in spite of boasting the silliest costumes. Mind you, actors playing reindeer are supposed to be silly-looking.
Help Santa Save Christmas
Available now online
Little Colonel Playhouse
Tickets are available at lcp.booktix.com
$10 for one viewer / $15 for one family
You will be emailed a link within 24 hours of purchase. Once purchased, the show can be viewed as many times as you like. Profits from this show will go towards the Potties for Patrons project.
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.