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November 16, 2010 > Theatre Review: "An O. Henry Christmas" is full of holiday spirit

Theatre Review: "An O. Henry Christmas" is full of holiday spirit

By Shavon Walker

"An O. Henry Christmas," written by Howard Bernman, opened at the Broadway West Theatre November 12, 2010. The plot of four short stories by the author - The Last Leaf, One Thousand Dollars, Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen, and his most famous "Gift of the Magi - are woven throughout the play.

It is Christmas Eve; Marguerite (Jenni Gebhardt), a young prostitute, is deathly ill and living on the streets of New York in 1893. Her friends Agnes (Paula Chenoweth); Hal (David McGuire), Fran (Rachael Logsdon), Grover (Joel Butler), and Dinty (Jim Coryelle) are fellow transients, occasionally harassed by Officer Guido (James Snell). O.P. (John Baldwin), a mysterious stranger with a Southern accent, visits the little group and entertains them with stories from O. Henry. Eventually, Marguerite recovers and O.P.'s true identity is revealed.

Very little scenery and props were used for this play. The actors have only their costumes and a handful of items-a feather, a few scraps of paper, some material and tin cups - but the depth of their performances fill in any gaps. A warm glow from an oil barrel onstage helps the viewer envision a fire burning, while the occasional train whistle reminds them that they are in an abandoned train yard. The actors stumbled over a few lines and timing was a bit off in some scenes, but additional shows (and more practice) will eliminate this.

All of the actors were wonderful, but Rachael Logsdon literally steals the show. As the Irish orphan Fran, she also plays a Cockney waitress and an American housewife. Her characterization of each woman is flawless, right down to the appropriate accent. I highly recommend that every freshman and sophomore English teacher schedule this play as a field trip; Logsdon and McGuire's portrayals of Della and Jim in "Gift of the Magi" is worth seeing, particularly by students who may be confused by Henry's language.

Nov 21, Dec 5 and 12 are Sunday matinees. Nov 21 and Dec 5 performances will begin with a continental brunch at 12:15 p.m., followed by the show at 1 p.m. The Dec 12 performance starts at 1 p.m. with theme-based refreshments during intermission. All other performance times are at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. All donations made during the performances will go to a local charity.

The close knit cast of this play, as well as the stage crew's lighting and production help bring O. Henry's short stories to life. Bring the family, and bring up a cup of coffee or tea from the cafˇ downstairs. There is no better way to kick off the holiday season.

An O. Henry Christmas
Presented by Broadway West
Friday, November 12 - December 18
8 p.m. (Sunday matinees at 1 p.m.)
4000-B Bay Street, Fremont

$22 general and $17 for students, seniors and TBA members; ticket prices for Nov 18, Dec 2, 9, 16 performances are $15. Dec 16 - all tickets $10. All Sunday performances are $22. Ticket prices include refreshments.

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