By Sue Morgan
In small-town depression-era Georgia, due to a wholly unexpected blizzard, Orson Welles is unable to fulfill a much-heralded Christmas holiday performance at local radio station WHAM.
The package containing the script Welles was supposed to perform is inadvertently confused with another, containing fruitcake. Station owner Cab Hoxton (Dodds Delzell) was counting on Welles’ special holiday performance to save his flailing station and insists that the show must go on. Such is the premise of Ham for the Holidays, a seasonal farce by Shad Willingham at Main Stage West in Sebastopol.
…Ham for the Holidays is lighthearted, funny holiday theatre.
Local radio personality Dexter Armstrong (Garet Waterhouse) volunteers a script he has written and intended to pass to Welles, hoping that Welles would recognize his genius and help take his career to the next level. Under duress, Cab agrees to use the script, dubiously titled “Attack of the Space Robots from Outer Space,” but insists it be modified to fit the wintry Christmas season.
Needing all hands on deck to stage the play and perform the roles of the 20 characters in the script, Hoxton enlists Violet Bicks (Maureen O’Neil), a method-acting stage veteran; Timmy Wilkens (Zane Walters), young assistant to an absent sound effects technician and all-around station gofer; Uncle Dick (John Craven), Hoxton’s narcoleptic brother and former Shakespearean thespian; and Honey Hoxton (Dale Leonheart), Hoxton’s negligibly talented and supremely clumsy daughter. Mayhem ensues.
Wilkens accidentally breaks the handle off the boiler, causing the station to get hotter and hotter, leading everyone to gradually disrobe as the evening progresses. Uncle Dick falls asleep when he’s supposed to be on air; Violet insists on changing costumes for every character, even when she is playing multiple characters speaking to one another; Honey doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of “On Air,” but is thrilled to assist Wilkens with sound effects, at one point inserting a monkey sound into a barnyard scene; and everyone does their best to insert words into the script that make it seem as if the action is happening in a cool winter environment, even though it is set on a blazing hot summer day.
The set design with engineering booth, drop mic, desk, wall covered in sound effect props, door to hallway, door to office, etc., is well-done, but the limitations of the small stage take a toll. As multiple characters are performing separate – and often intentionally disparate – actions simultaneously, the desired sense of chaos is achieved, but the overall effect was chaotic and disjointed, making it difficult to home in on any particular scene.
While the individual players do well, eliciting many laughs, both because of the dialogue and their own talent at comedic acting – the Ham jingles alone were worth the price of admission – overall, the ensemble sometimes felt clumsy and out of sync. This may be resolved with further performances.
Despite the shortcomings, Ham for the Holidays is lighthearted, funny holiday theatre.
Contributing Writer Sue Morgan is a literature-and-theater enthusiast in Sonoma County’s Russian River region. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Production||Ham for the Holidays|
|Written by||Shad Willingham|
|Directed by||Emily Cornelius|
|Producing Company||Main Stage West|
|Production Dates||Through Dec 30th|
|Production Address||Main Stage West
104 N Main St
Sebastopol, CA 95472
|Tickets||$20 – $32|
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review PICK!||----|