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By Book By John Cramer, Based On A Variety Of Holiday Classics
Music And Lyrics By Various Artists
Directed by John Cramer
December 4 to 20, 2009
Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography
Volunteer of the Production
Sponsored In Part By
WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
December 11, 2009
A Christmas show comprised of a host of carols and characters is a wonderful way to engage many participants and encourage young talent. "Candy Canes Tales and Holiday Carols" at the Waukesha Civic Theatre is a perfect showcase for an array of varying gifts. Mark E. Schuster designed the colorful set with its giant illuminated book which foretold each vignette, Sallie Burkard created a rich assemblage of beautiful and clever costumes to suit the stories and John Cramer, with Jacob Sudbrink's assistance, wrote and directed the show.
It was a mammoth task to take on, with a cast of more than 60, but one which reaped many rewards.
We not only got to hear 46 Christmas songs, but we also re-encountered Santa, his elves, Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph, the Abominable Snowman, Scrooge, George Bailey and the Winter Warlock, to name a few familiars.
The tunes are quite varied, ranging from Allie Babich's soaring rendition of "O Holy Night" to the doo-wap version of "The Perfect Christmas Night," tunefully delivered by Samantha Burkard, with her father Paul, Jon Jones and Jacob Sudbrink providing harmonious backup.
Other solo numbers that deserve mention are Jude Cramer's soulful plea, "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," and Kaitlyn Downing's pitch-perfect discovery in "I Saw Santa Kissing Santa Claus."
Jacob Sudbrink's rendering of "River" is heartfelt, but the accompaniment sometimes detracted from the beauty of the work. A guitar or a tape would have worked better.
Jan Klett's "Christmas Traditions" is a thoughtful piece, movingly executed and one not often included on a Christmas menu.
Paul Burkard is perfect as the magician in the Frosty story, and Tom Koth, a nasty grinch.
The ensemble numbers that are especially melodious include "The Jingle Bell Medley," Carol of the Bells," the "Let It Snow" Combo and "Silent Night."
Humor is prevalent in the elves workshop scene, the Grinch story and the Holiday Villains number, where all the bad guys in Christmas stories are vying for the "Most Evil" award.
The Cratchit family scene is very well done dramatically, with authentic British accents to boot. There are certainly numbers to please every taste and age.
The history of some of the songs provides a nice touch, but the manner of delivery is choppy and somewhat distracting, disrupting the rhythm of the narrative, especially when time is lost waiting for the next person to deliver his or her line.
The scene changes are a bit cumbersome and time-consuming. Perhaps some smaller numbers could have been performed downstage during transitions. If the show gets tweaked here and there, it looks like one that could become a tradition, tapping as it does into many Christmas favorites.
The starting time probably should have been 7:30 p.m. to accommodate all the little people on stage and in the audience. However there are some performances at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
It is highly recommended as a lovely Christmas gift to the Waukesha community. It runs through Dec. 20.
WCT's variety show doesn't miss a holiday trick
By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
Dec. 8, 2009
Waukesha Civic Theatre's holiday show is like a tree of a thousands of lights, 15 dozen decorated cookies, a 10-foot tower of wrapped presents.
However, like the tree with some lights burned out, the handful of cookies that crumbled, the gifts the paper didn't quite cover, "Candy Cane Tales and Holiday Carols" has its flaws; but who notices, among all the colorful costumes, familiar holiday tunes, stories and characters and festive, gleaming decorations not to mention a cast of 61, most of whom are happy, smiling children.
The 21 scenes in "Candy Cane" depict various popular holiday shows, such as "It's a Wonderful Life," "A Christmas Story" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and showcase familiar seasonal tunes. The scenes are preceded by a little history of the show or song, which often reveal surprising information. For instance, did you know that "The Coventry Carol" is the oldest known Christmas melody, dating back to 1534, that "O Holy Night" was the first piece of music to be broadcast on the radio, or that Henry Winkler and Jonathan Winters are among the many actors who have played Ebenezer. Scrooge?
Lots of cute kids
The children are, of course, darling and, for the most part, execute well the dance steps, tunes and parts of the scene explanations they had to learn by heart.
Little Jude Cramer is a scene stealer in "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" and in "A Couple of Misfits," where he plays an elf that wants to be a dentist along with Eric Minessale as Rudolph.
Despite numerous set changes, the 2 1/2 -hour show with intermission moved quickly and quietly save for one loud crash on opening night.
Other highlights included Jan Klett's lovely and heartfelt rendition of a not-so-familiar tune called "Christmas Eve." and its refrain of "Don't forget where you came from."
Jacob Sudbrink's violin medley, which cleverly strings together tunes to "Let It Snow," was another crowd favorite, as was Sudbrink's "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" with the cutest Woodland Creatures you ever saw.
Grinch steals the show
Tom Koth as the evil Grinch mimes the story wonderfully during "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," with various cast members handling Dr. Seuss's clever lines. Jon Jones did a fine job describing the Christmas killjoy in "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."
Allie Babich's "O Holy Night," accompanied by Bjorn Larson, Abby Lewis and Jacob Sudbrink on violins, was also well done, as was Samantha Burkard's jazzy "Perfect Christmas Night."
There is hardly a Yuletide character overlooked in the show, as Frosty, Virginia (from "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus"), George Bailey and Scrooge are featured. Even the Abominable Snowman makes humorous appearances throughout the show.
Even before the show started, the audience was entertained by a gorgeous set featuring a lit "open book" backdrop that changed with each scene, plus mountains of Christmas gifts, lit trees and garland as well as a stockingful of holiday tunes.
The reason for rhyming this text is a cinch;
for the role Tom played in the show was the Grinch.
He was helpful backstage to the young and the old;
he did what was needed, never had to be told.
He brought flowers to the cast and that made them feel grand;
and his performance on stage was the best in the land.
Tom was commended for he has no Grinch-like greed;
and his all-around effort helped the show to succeed.