12 MONTROSE VOICE/DECEMBER 16, 1986
Stroll Over to Main Street
During 'Christmas Times'
Review by Bill O'Rourke
o Christmas Times
Main Street Theater's Christmas Times
is the best Christmas show I've seen
this year. Aren't there a lot of them suddenly? Seems like none of the theaters
used to pay much attention to the season. Well, Theater Under the Stars has
had special performances and the Alley
did Seasons Greetings. But this year
there is a rush to plays specifically
about Christmas. And this new musical
revue is the best of the lot.
These are all new songs by Phillip
Charlton (with some assistance on the
lyrics by Max Pearson). They are all so
good that it's something of a dilemma.
The show is just a little too long. They
ought to cut one song. I know the one I'd
suggest, but I'm sure it'd be someone
This is a very mellow show. Many of
the songs are ballads and several are
even blues. They are very touching
while you hear them, but the show's end
result is far from sad.
There are also patter songs reminiscent of Sondheim and a gospel number
for the eleven o'clock song. The first act
ends with a medley of counterpointed
Chritmas carols, like those wonderful
duets Carol Burnett used to do.
Remember Carol and Bubbles? Carol
and Julie? If not, grab an old record.
After you see this show, of course!
Pearson has also written a scene to
introduce each song. Most of them
would stand alone, but they mean more
in context. The scenes are very good in
and of themselves, too.
Tammy Gilbert and Philip Hafer are
chameleons. Much of the joy in this
show comes from watching them take
on the colorings of each character.
They are ably surrounded by such as
Jared Dean Cooley, Ginny Lang, Steve
Garfinkle and Gary Powell (that tall
man with the beautiful voice formerly
seen at Risky Business). Also, Melissa
O'Connel, Chandra D. Wilson and Tam-
ara L. Siler (who here does a quiet,
warm, controlled performance in contrast to, and just as good as, the Minelli-
like super-exuberance I have seen her
cut loose with before). Jon Eisenstein,
the youngest member of the cast, is cute
and funny. He alternates performances
with Michael Waghalter.
So here's an egg nog toast to director
John Vreeke. This show would stand a
good chance of putting the Grinch himself into the right mood.
□ The Marriage of Bette
If you like Christopher Durang's work,
you'll probably love the Alley's The
Marriage of Better and Boo. Many ofthe
flaws found in his other plays are corrected here. Many of his characteristic
strengths are shown off, too.
For the first time, he has found an
ending to a play. So far he's been great
with beginnings and middles, but this is
the first truly satisfying ending he's
Everything is believable! That is not
to say that any of this could actually
happen in the "real world." But, in con
text, even the dead baby jokes make
Durang reserves his fantastical characters for those in positions of authority, particularly the church. One of the
protagonist's grandfathers cannot
is very, very rarely to my taste. But t
know many of you love his work. So. like
the old reviewer who had the bad luck
not to like Carol Channing, I can only
say that if you like this kind of thing,
you like it.
Caught sight of Timothy Arrington
going in the stage door on crutches.
Seems he fell and hurt his foot, but not
so that you'd know while he's onstage at
in the Alley's Trelawney of the "Wells."
B'days: 16—Arthur C. Clark, Noel
Coward, Georgey Santayana. 17—Paul
Cadmus, William Safire, Dorothy L.
Sayers. 18—Betty Grable, Henry
McClurg. Steven Spielberg.
"The United States has the power to
destroy the world, but not the power to
save it alone."—Margaret Mead (hern
Tammy Gilbert and Phillip Hafer in "Christmas Times" at Main Street
speak an intelligble word (Wyman Pendleton). Neither can a divorce trial lawyer. When a priest (Iggie Wolfington)
holds a marriage seminar, it soon
degenerates into watching him give
hilarious impersonations of bacon frying and coffee percolating. Durang has
no sympathy for those who make their
livings by counseling others on how to
The subject is one of the strongest
Durang has dealt with yet—alcoholism.
The alcoholic (Adam LeFevre) gradually loses touch with reality. Thespouse
(Marilyn Maclntyre) loses all the kindness she once had and becomes a shrew.
The son (Leigh Selting) is left with little
but confusion and dread of his own destiny. As an ex-shrew, I can tell you that
this play is very, very real.
Durang also gives the wife an obsession of her own. Due to the Rh problem,
she cannot bear children. Her first son
lives, miraculously. But then she has
four miscarriages in a row. That alone
would be a large enough problem to tear
her family apart, but she was never
trained to be anything but multiple-
mother. So she cannot quit her futile
The cast is phenomenal. Director
Beth Sanford has her principals surrounded by some of the best character
actors in town like Judith Helton, Bettye Fitzpatrick, Bob Marich and
Marietta Marich, and Sarah Hall.
Though there are quite a few laughs
along the way, the end result is a
tragedy. Don't tragedies belong in
March or October?
Actually, Durang, like Ray Bradbury,
The Nutcracker (Jones, 16)—Young
Clara falls asleep under the Christmas
tree and dreams of meeting a handsome
prince. Music by Tchaikivsy, staged by
Ben Stevenson, Houston Ballet.
Peter Pan (Music Hall, 16)—Clap if
you believe in fairies!
Christmas Customs (Dow Elementary Fine Arts Magnet, 16, 7:30)—
Dance, song and gymnastics. Freebies.
ONO! (One Night Only!)
HSPVA Wind/ Percussion Ensembles (HSPVA, 17), ONO!
Leonard's Mime (Al) Players, 18,
10:30)—children's play about a boy and
Holidays in the City (between
Transco Tower and the Water Wall. IS
20, 6:30-9:30)— Lots of music! Freebies.
Janie Parker performs in "The Nutcracke
If s The Place to