Dorset Players welcome families with "12 Days of Christmas"

Local community troupe takes on popular holiday play

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DORSET — Oh, no! Can Christmas be saved?



Holiday celebrations are fast approaching and Shirley the Partridge is up to her neck in questions and self-doubt, even though she is supposed to be in charge of the saving



The French Hens are cackling at each other, the Six Geese have flown the coop to Florida for the winter and perhaps the biggest mystery of all: could it be that a dastardly ne'er-do-well has made off with the Five Golden Rings?



In the background looms a bigger, overarching question: what, pray tell, will become of Christmas with all this disruption of tradition?



Have no fear! Shirley the Partridge (Siobhan O'Keefe) is on the case, and the fun for kids and the entire family starts right now. She is aided by her two closest buddies in life and the traditional song: the Two Turtle Doves Dot and Ricky (Adeline Manning and Luca Bowen)



The Dorset Players continue their landmark 90th season with the popular play, "The 12 Days of Christmas," a 2013 offering by playwright Renee Calarco, and directed by none other than long time professional actor Sheila Childs. The show is produced by Patty Greene-Pawelczyk.



The premise of this play allows the cast of 20 (mostly children with a few key adults sprinkled in) to take the audience on a funny fantasy: Shirley must carry on with the long-held family tradition of getting everyone gathered together for the traditional holiday song singing.



Shirley's Mom, Grammy and Great Grammy Partridge (Alexa Manning, Kristen Bowen, and Judy Barrows) are all there to mentor and advise the neophyte bird, and provide additional laughs.



The brilliantly written and staged Four Calling Birds (Kylie Prins, Ryder Scott, Molly Hershberg and Jaia French) make an economical call to hold off Christmas, all while the aforementioned Geese (along with the Seven Swans-a-Swimming) are soaking up rays in the panhandle state.



Dawn Goetz plays a sinister Hoarder who steals the Five Golden Rings, all while the Three French Hens Clothilde, Solange, and Henri (Gabriella Giorgi, Emerson Alderman, and Julian Pirie) are full of gossip and cackle in the background.



The cast is rounded out nicely with Alyssa, a Steampunk Swan (Grace McDonald), the club Hostess (Isabel Mazzola), Tyler, a Drummer (Summer Murphy), Frances, a Milkmaid (Molly Flint), Samantha a Lady Dancing (Casey Vogel), and Nick, a Lord A'Leaping (Graham Bowen)



So how does this all turn out?



Well, suffice it to say there is enough fun to spread around for all audience members, who, with a far echo to "The Rocky Horror Show," are also asked to interact with the cast at key moments of the play. This not only adds to the fun for Mom and Dad, but also for any kids they might have brought along.



The play ran for just under an hour, with no intermission. If you were looking for a holiday performance labeled as "family friendly," this one is it.



Patty Greene-Pawelczyk production support was ubiquitous in its thoroughness. Sheila Childs' set was Spartan yet surreal, constructed by Drew Hill and his excellent crew. Trish Weisbrot's stage management was a Herculean labor soundly executed with this show's many moving pieces



Lights by Angie Merwin and Ethan Prins, sound by Merwin again, and costumes by Cherie Thompson, all hit their marks.



Holiday productions such as "The 12 Day of Christmas" are targeted as family magnets, and with good reason. This alone, as well as the very moderate ticket prices, are a good bargain for adults to get a laugh and recall their own childhood, and parents to take the kids along.



But from a bigger picture point of view: Going to a Dorset Players show, especially this year, turns into a full blown celebration of their 90th season, and as such is well worth it.



Calarco wrote "The 12 Days of Christmas" as a play for both professionals and amateurs to offer up the spirit of the holidays - and to entertain kids at the same time.



Staging a production with so many children in the cast requires deft preparation, and the Dorset Players, time and again, have shown they are up to the task. Ms. Childs deserves a special nod for making this all work.



One mission accomplished. Let the audience flow in.



"The 12 Days of Christmas," will run through Dec. 10 at The Dorset Players, 173 Cheney Rd., Dorset. Info and tickets: dorsetplayers.org or 802-867-5570



Reach award-winning freelance journalist Telly Halkias at tchalkias@aol.com; Twitter: @TellyHalkias


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