Theater review: 'Christmas Belles' offers a holy night, Texas style, with fun, surprises and red-neck humor
By BY ALICE ADAMS
Nov. 14, 2010 at 5:14 a.m.
Updated Nov. 17, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.
If you goWHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18,19, and 20.
WHERE: Leo J. Welder Center, 214 N. Main St.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.theatrevictoria.org or 361-570-8587.
PLAYWRIGHTS: A comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten
DIRECTOR: Charles Moster
SCENIC DESIGN: Michael Teer and Paul Locher
SET CONSTRUCTION: Bob Brown, Bill McLeod, Paul Locher and
SCENIC PAINTING/SET DRESSING: Karen Locher, Paul Locher and Patsy Hand
LIGHTING DESIGN: Amanda Rocha
LIGHT BOARD OPERATOR: Paul Miller
SOUND DESIGN: Curtis Short
SOUND BOARD OPERATOR: Michael Teer
COSTUME DESIGN: Gail Crockett
STAGE MANAGER: Aaron Grohke, assisted by Gwen Wooley
BACKSTAGE CREW: Jonathan Rabino and Whitney Stevens
Director Charles Moster wishes to acknowledge the following for their assistance with this production: Victoria Performing Arts Center Board, KAVU Newscenter 25 staff and production departments, George & Joyce Matthews, Laura Pollard and L-Ann Imaging, Police Chief Bruce Ure, Paul and Karen Locher, Joe Baugh and Patsy Hand.
Supporting the production of "Christmas Belles:" Victoria Communications Services, VCS Security Systems and Infiniti Communications Technologies
2010-11 SPONSORS: First Victoria, Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Private Client Services, AT&T, Jess Williams Jr. - Jess Williams Insurance, Louise S. O'Connor.
PLATINUM SPONSORS: Channel 25, Channel 17 - NBC and Channel 21 - Univision. Gold Sponsors: The Victoria Advocate, 93.3 KITE, KIXS-FM and 95 KVIC
UPCOMING SHOWS Auditions for the musical, "The Fantasticks," will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 23 in the Welder Center (Main Street entrance). All who audition will be asked to sing, dance and read from the script.
The second performance of its "Presenting Series - The International Tenors" will be Dec. 5.
"King & Cash" - two legends, one stage - will be Jan. 14.
For the first time, Theatre Victoria also will present a series of performances of "Christmas in the Park," free and open to the public. Attend one or all of the performances of "A Christmas Carol," adapted by Charles Moster, directed by Larry Rose and sponsored by Lifepointe Fellowship - at DeLeon Plaza, 1 p.m. Dec. 4; Victoria Mall, 1 p.m. Dec 11; Hiller House, 4 p.m. Dec 11; and 10 a.m. Dec. 19, Lifepointe Fellowship service.
As a kid growing up, my holidays always centered on friends and family as well as Christmas Eve pageants, food and more family.
And did I mention the drama? Or the plans gone awry? Or the out-and-out disasters?
Playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten must have been flies on our walls because their play, "Christmas Belles," now on stage at Theatre Victoria and directed by Charles Moster, perfectly captures my family's Christmas gatherings. The beauty of this production is that it puts the fun back into "dysfunction" with the universally funny quirks that are found in families across Texas and all over this nation, for that matter.
Meet the Futrelle family from Fayro, Texas - three sisters and their spouses, spouses-to-be, neighbors and other interesting members of this small-town Texas community, including Frankie Futrelle Dubberly's daughter Gina Jo (don't all Texas women have double names?), pursuing a career as a cow inseminator. There's gonna be a pageant at the Tabernacle of the Lamb church, just like every year, except this year's production will be directed by Honey Raye Futrelle rather than Geneva Musgrave, owner of the BooKoo Bokay and Greyhound Bus Terminal, who has directed the pageant for the last 27 years.
Once you know Honey Raye Futrelle has renamed the Tabernacle's pageant "the Bethlehem-a-Palooza," featuring an Elvis impersonator and a few other surprises, you can expect all matter of crazy hilarity to unfold in a fast-paced series of very, very funny vignettes, and you can expect to see glimpses of every member of your family (yes, even the eccentric ones) in this two-act, laugh-a-minute comedy.
Here's the deal: When a play is this full of well-crafted, truly funny material, the temptation is to over-play each line or fall into slapstick timing. This is not the case as Moster maintains a light touch on the show's reins and allows his talented cast to reveal the many sides of each of their characters.
Because the Futrelle sisters - Gayle Gainer as Twink, Keisha Ringland as Honey Rae and Pauline C. Rivera as Frankie - are at the center of this comical whirlwind, this show is more heavily weighted toward the women, especially when you add in Theatre Victoria veteran Ruth Stock as Geneva, Mary K. Rabe as Rhonda Lynn Lampley, newcomer Caitlin Klare as GJ and Christy A. Uresti as Patsy Price. But keep your eyes on the men - James Reinhardt as Dub Dubberly, Ryan Tucker as Justin Waverly - the Tabernacle's love struck pastor, Johnny Vera as Deputy John Curtis and you won't forget Walter Womack as Reynerd Chisum.
It would be difficult to pick a favorite performance because Moster has drawn this talented cast into a tightly intertwined, top-flight ensemble delivering spirited performances from the first scene of Act 1. However, suffice it to say, Friday's opening performance gifted the almost full house with a new favorite holiday classic, complete with side-splitting laughs, surprises galore, lessons in love, hope and charity and the reassurance that every family has its dysfunctions, its secrets, its embarrassments and its poignantly redeeming moments.