Two of this season's most charming little plays are both found at the same spot: TheatreWorks West, on the Westminster College campus.
I will never tire of Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales," and this performance (adaptation by Fran Pruyn, direction by Teresa Sanderson) is funny as well as poetic. Barb Gandy is fetching as one of the aunts "who always wore wool next to the skin" and who drinks a bit just this one time of year . . . and sings. Gandy has several roles, all slightly nutty ladies.Two young girls, Gretchen Krebs and Diana Bills, are excellent as the young Welch lads who throw snowballs at cats and blow their whistles and in general give life to Thomas' childhood.
Mary Bishop, Gary Anderson and Jeffrey Owen are also fine in the roles of aunt and uncles.
The set, by Sandra Guzman, is homey, and the mood is heightened by a series of children's drawings that are projected on the back wall. Kiyono Oshiro is the light designer, and Daisy Lee the stage manager.
You can come to the theater slightly cold and grinchy and get your heart warmed up with this one.
Now Cinderella isn't necessarily holiday fare, but this opera is amusing and a good laugh is welcome any time of year, right? The verses rhyme, and the music is all stolen from something else, and the story is also recognizable - and the whole effect is fresh and funny.
Annie Draper plays Cinderella, with a pretty voice and a frantic scrub brush. She is at her best at the ball, where she has had a few too many swigs of something, as she dances and lurches about in her hoops and plastic dress.
And the look on her face when the Prince comes to call . . . ah, pure romance.
Diana Bills and Gretchen Krebs appear again as fairy godmothers in training. The stepsisters are played by Vicki Pugmire and Mary Bishop with fake moles, red lips, cotton candy wigs and bad attitudes. Jeffrey Owen is the stepmother with a more than just a slight five o'clock shadow. Kathryn Feigal plays Brunhildabut, the fairy godmother, with verve and a New York accent.
All have good voices and great ability to romp.
The Prince, played by Christopher Smith, and his page, played in high camp by Jerry Rapier have several scene-stealing numbers. Rapier wears gold glittery eye-shadow and his heels are higher than the Prince's. Steve Rassmussen's costumes are marvelous.
Running time for the two plays together is 11/2 hours. Sensitive rating: Good family fun, but probably above the sophistication level of children younger than 8 or 9.