‘Twas the night before Christmas

‘‘Twas the night before Christmas’ is a delightful story suitable for children over the age of 5 yrs. It was written in 2010 by Pennsylvanian Ken Ludwig, who studied music at Harvard under Leonard Bernstein. He now has 30 plays under his belt.

One of his highest honours was to be asked by the Agatha Christie Estate, to adapt ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ to a stage play. His other honours include two Olivier Awards, three Tony Award nominations, two Tony Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards, the Edgar Award, the Edwin Forest Award for Services to the American Theatre, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Samuel French Award, and an honorary doctorate from York University. Wow – beat that.

The Harbour Theatre Company presents this treasure for children at the Harbour Theatre at Camelot (indoor theatre), 16 Lochee Street in Mosman Park. The 70-minute performances (no interval) of this romp are at 7.30 on Friday and Saturday evenings until Saturday 12th December. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm on 29th November 6th and 13th December. There is one early evening performance on Saturday 5th December at 6.00 pm.

Bookings:  TAZ Tix  9255 3336  or Book Online. Covid spacing still applies, and unless it is lifted from the 60% allowable seating the matinées are sold out.

The Scene:           The main stage has been removed and the action takes place on what was the polished dance floor. It is the night before Christmas.

The Set: The rear cyclorama acts as a projection screen. There are two flats on each side of the stage, these too act as screens for the three new distortion-free, amazing quality selection of scenes.      

Lighting Design: Don Allen and Rob Tagliaferri. The operator of the bright and colourful display was Rob.

Projections:        Jane Sherwood has selected some charming Christmas scenes.

Sound design and operation:      Slick as ever, Vanessa Gudgeon.

Stage Management:      Thomas Wendt and Mother Christmas (Julie Mackay).

The attractive poster was by Bree Vreedenburgh – congrats on your recent wedding from all in Perth theatre.       

The foyer and the Camelot coffee hall have been transformed to a Christmas setting. The hall has an old-fashioned family sitting room with fire, old mantlepiece and old comfortable leather chairs.

As the audience arrives, beautiful Louise the lollies elf (Chloe Miller – 5 yrs.) wanders through the auditorium handing out candies.

                A frail old gentleman, Uncle Brierly (Chris Kennedy) sits on a stool and leaning on his walking stick, starts to tell us a Christmas story. As he says ‘Not even a mouse stirs’ a real lively mouse called Amos (Jennifer Wright – 13) proves him wrong, Amos is annoyed that he was missed last year. Amos’s best friend Emily (Caitlyn Bamber) arrives; she is a strong-willed character and promises to help Amos with the Christmas plans.

They discuss how last year Santa did not call at their house. As they are speaking, one of the Santa’s Christmas Elves, Calliope (Danica Szkiela – 17) arrives and befriends them; then, when the miserable Sir Guy (Chris Kennedy) she protects them. Cruel Sir Guy wants to steal Santa’s ‘who has been good and who has been bad list’ but a couple of the larger elves Mulch (Jack Dorward – 16) and Elfis (Max Hingston) come to the rescue.

There is a personal appearance by Santa Claus, whose reindeers are outside being fed by Bob Charteris.

The show ends with mirth, merriment, and mayhem as a gathering of these wonderful Christmas characters along with Britannia (Barbara Mortimer), Mother Christmas (Julie Mackay) and Figgy Pudding (Nicole Miller) have a sing along session.

The time for the show just flies by. The pace is fast and the cast very well-rehearsed and with excellent chemistry. The three main youngsters were amazing. Danica was like a ballerina as she moved around spreading her magic and connecting with the audience. Jennifer and Caitlyn are both only 13 years old and yet their stage presence and talents are those of many adult actors. A couple of stars in the making? When they met on stage, there was a tricky routine of clever body use and choreography, truly a highlight of this festive show.

The show’s adventures included exciting duels with rapiers, some hip-hop, a squirt gun and much more.

The cast’s makeup by Erika Luck’s is wonderful. Pixie ears, glitter, moustaches, wigs most inventive. Likewise, Nicole Miller made the well-designed, highly detailed and colourful costumes; In children’s shows the costumes are so important as this is a child’s main link to the character. Nicole was wearing a tasty plum pudding skirt – delicious.                

Director Jane Sherwood has tackled children’s productions before, and each time she nails it. Jane has a great knack of finding outstanding performers and then bringing the whole story to life. SUPERB, the kids will love it.