I don’t know what is so great about the holiday season. Yeah, Christmas is cool and everything, and I enjoy a good rendition of “White Christmas” now and then, but the cash cow that this holiday has become for “feel good” movies for the holiday season is almost out of control.
Therefore, when I saw “Tinseltown Christmas” at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts this weekend, I already had my doubts. I feel that the holidays exempt poor script writing, mediocre talent and altogether blasé shows for the sake of the “Christmas spirit.” Unfortunately, I was not unsurprised, as it was a purely mediocre show.
A musical comedy about two lonely neighbors that, with the help of four ghosts of old Hollywood stars, fall in love with each other, the show was filled with a variety of impersonators, over-the-top music and an attempt at high-energy acting.
Sure, it was a new theatrical production, written as a part of the festival of New Musicals, as well as the opening night, so there were many kinks that the actors and orchestra were working through. However, there were many issues with the script, as well as the pacing of the show, that kept the show lagging at many points.
One of the most anticipated aspects of the show was the fact that four legendary old Hollywood actors — Jimmy Stewart, Bing Crosby, Natalie Wood and Judy Garland — were integral parts in both the acting and songs. However, only a couple of the actors were spot-on in their impersonations, while the others unfortunately lacked considerable luster.
Both Connor Bond, who played Stewart, and Jeffrey Salisbury, who played Crosby, played their respective characters to a T, from their mannerisms to voices and even postures. I found those two actors to be the best in the show, and I looked forward to each of their lines.
Unfortunately, as a Garland fan, I had high expectations for this role, of which were not met. Of course, the infamous characteristics of Garland are difficult to match, but I failed to see many of Garland’s mannerisms matched.
The singing was standard theater vibrato, which was also unfortunate, as I wanted more effort from the impersonators to sound like their respective Hollywood stars. With the exception of the aforementioned Salisbury as Crosby, most of the performers relied on their classic theatrical-trained voices rather than explored many vocal nuances that the Hollywood stars possessed.
The script was my main issue with the show, since I felt many of the songs sounded similar and the dialogue was lagging significantly. The first act was considerably dragging in many points, especially in regards to establishing the frustration between the two neighbors in the beginning. Yet, when the second act picked up the pace both with energy and plot, I was able to enjoy the play much more.
I felt that all and all, the show was simply an attempt at a feel-good musical, where the point of the show was to capitalize on the importance of having someone at Christmas time. I wish that there was more substance to the plot and the characters, as well as talent, that could have carried the show or made it truly memorable. Unfortunately, I felt the only standard it met was the basic Christmastime entertainment, where everyone ends up together in happily ever after situations.
If “Tinseltown Christmas” wants to be taken seriously in the theater world, it requires considerably revamping of the script and songs; however, it does suffice as a Christmas musical that can make you feel the spirit of the holidays once the final bows are taken.
Final Rating: 2.5/5