INsite Magazine

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Play season opens at the Hipp

The thespian Christmas season began this weekend with this year’s premieres of A Christmas Carol and A Tuna Christmas at the Hippodrome State Theatre. The former is a classic and a 31-year-old Gainesville tradition, while the latter is a more modern take on the holidays..

On opening day A Christmas Carol was presented first. In slightly more than an hour, Ebenezer Scrooge (longtime Gainesville actor Rusty Salling) was visited by the ghost of his former business partner and the three Christmas spirits who help transform his dark, miserly life into a happy relationship with his community. As familiar as the story is, I couldn't help being moved as I watched Scrooge's transformation.

After the play, much of the cast joined the audience in the lobby for cupcakes and treats provided by Cakes by Jenny Wagner & Co. Some people gathered outside on the steps of the Hippodrome to chat. As night fell, the stately theatre took on a new glow, with holiday lighting illuminating the building’s columns before the evening performance and some nice barbeque from Jim’s Bar-B-Que afterwards.
A Tuna Christmas, which followed later in the evening, is a much darker (and more cynical) comedic view of the holidays. Set in Tuna, Texas, the many characters are played by two actors; as the characters grapple with the disappointments in their lives they attempt to celebrate the Holiday season. Rather than finding redemption, two of the characters find something missing in their lives at the end by “overcoming” their faith.

Both productions present life lessons, although the latter play requires more mature reflection to find the truth. I could see how the characters in both plays were guided in the end to overcome their "shackles"--literal or otherwise.

--Story and photos by John Davisson

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