Published November 23, 2012
Harlequin's Survival Guide capture Christmas from an adult perspectiveMOLLY GILMORE
Harlequin Productions A Christmas Survival Guide, opening tonight, focuses on Christmas for the rest of us those who arent waiting to see what Santa brought.Its a comedic musical revue about the responsibility and busyness of this time of year and sometimes its loneliness, too, as in a scene where a department-store Santa talks to a child while thinking aloud about his own Christmas wishes.Christmas is usually focused on children, said Amy Shephard, part of the shows ensemble cast of three. Its the excitement of having Santa Claus coming and getting presents.This show examines Christmas from more of an adult perspective. After youve gotten over the glow of childhood, you can spend your life trying to recapture the magic that you felt as a child.The show is both traditional at least in the set and some of the music and a bit edgy.The set is big, Christmassy, beautiful, said Linda Whitney, the director of the show and Harlequins co-artistic director. Its one of the most fun sets Ive designed in a while, because I get to have seven Christmas trees and all kinds of lights.Songs, accompanied by a five-piece band, include a bounty of Christmas classics ranging from The Chipmunk Song to Away in a Manger along with little-known tunes by such contemporary composers as Jason Robert Brown. And some songs get new lyrics. The 12 Steps of Christmas is a parody of The 12 Days of Christmas, sung by a woman at an (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting, said Linda Whitney. Its very funny.Mainly, the humor is very dry, Shephard said. Its very witty and can be very sharp and biting at times. I think its hilarious. Its not your typical Christmas show.Neither were the shows in the theaters Stardust holiday series, which ended a 17-year run last year. The original musicals were set in a nightclub during World War II. But they had become as traditional as the Grinch on television.It was time for something different, Whitney said. It certainly doesnt seem to have affected ticket sales, she said. I just feel like everybody was ready to change it up a little bit.Weve got all kinds of good stuff going on in this show that we could not have done with Stardust.