Stage One Christmas Review 2016
Roger Smith’s début production for StageOne admirably blended the experience of old hands with the nascent talent and enthusiasm of youngsters from the Salvation Army, in a proudly ecumenical show. The commitment of the cast was infectious, and, with a running time of about 45 minutes for the first half and just over half an hour for the second, the length ideal for this type of community entertainment.
The performance consisted of fourteen very varied sketches built loosely around
the familiar nativity story, generally with a modern angle, and with much humour, though with an unashamedly firm Christian message. And there were many deeply touching moments, too.
Thus we had an essentially modern teenage Mary struggling to come to terms with the amazing things happening to her, a shepherd double-act, pitting experience against incompetent apprenticeship, an innkeeper’s harassed wife, changing her resentful attitude when she learns that her unwelcome extra guest is pregnant, the birth of Jesus told as it might be through a teenage gossip magazine, and so on. Many people in the sketches, and perhaps we in the audience, too, are brought to see the Christmas story in a new light. And the more Biblically based scenes were interspersed with others such as the disillusioned Christmas grump given a Scrooge-like lesson by a rent-a-fairy from Yuletide Cynic busters, carol singers questioning the text of their carols, an arch rogue coming to confession and finding that the ‘priest’ is a bigger rogue than he. Etc.
The show starts very touchingly, with little Lily May stealing back secretly in her nativity play costume to cuddle the ‘baby Jesus’ and ends likewise, with a down-and-out being literally led to Christmas warmth and happiness by someone physically, but clearly not spiritually, blind.
I am not going to single out individuals for praise; they all gave their utmost, often in highly contrasting rôles, and it was a wonderful team effort. Taking part were: Norman Bolton, Lily May Bolton, Louise Gorter, Megan and Evie Gorter, Adam Grannell, Michael Hale, Dave Hellens, Joanne Hill, Paul Robbins, Hayley Vickery, Cody and Maddison Vickery, Paul Wimsett. Richard Baulch provided the excellent music. At Trinity, Sid Hill was in charge of the lighting.
The show was premièred at Holy Trinity on December 3rd and further performances took place at the new Salvation Army Centre and Sandgate Road Methodist church.