December 1,2,3 at 7 PM and December 4 at 2PM Tickets are $9 and available at the door.
It’s Christmas-time in the small town of Fayro, Texas, and the Futrelle Sisters — Frankie, Twink and Honey Raye — are not exactly in a festive mood. A cranky Frankie is weeks overdue with her second set of twins. Twink, recently jilted and bitter about it, is in jail for inadvertently burning down half the town. And hot-flash-suffering Honey Raye is desperately trying to keep the Tabernacle of the Lamb’s Christmas Program from spiraling into chaos. But things are not looking too promising: Miss Geneva, the ousted director of the previous twenty-seven productions, is ruthless in her attempts to take over the show. The celebrity guest Santa Claus — played by Frankie’s long-suffering husband, Dub — is passing a kidney stone. One of the shepherds refuses to watch over his flock by night without pulling his little red wagon behind him. And the entire cast is dropping like flies due to food poisoning from the Band Boosters’ Pancake Supper. And when Frankie lets slip a family secret that has been carefully guarded for decades, all hope for a successful Christmas pro-gram seems lost, even with an Elvis impersonator at the manger. But in true Futrelle fashion, the feuding sisters find a way to pull together in order to present a Christmas program the citizens of Fayro will never forget. Their hilarious holiday journey through a misadventure-filled Christmas Eve is guaranteed to bring joy to your world!
With the holiday season in full swing, there is nothing that quite gets you in the festive spirit like cozy sweaters, stringed garland, Christmas wreaths… a kidney-stone-passing Santa Claus, a wagon-pulling shepherd and a hip-swinging Elvis?! Long Reach featured all that and more in its recent production of Christmas Belles.
Set in the fictional small town of Fayro, Texas, the play revolves around the annual Tabernacle of the Lamb’s Christmas Program. Frantic to repair her damaged image, Honey Raye Futrelle (Carson Blasko) is keen on directing the wholesome celebration. The Christmas pageant soon turns into a unique Futrelle family affair as Honey Raye enlists the help of her two sisters – Frankie (Gabrielle Amaro), who is long overdue with twins, and Twink (Cecelia Holt), who is in jail for burning down her ex-boyfriend’s trailer out of revenge and watched over by the town sheriff John Curtis Buntner (Stephen Lopez). Along with a colorful cast of townspeople such as Frankie’s husband Dub (Doug Putt) and her daughter Gina Jo (Mareya Norris), the resentful past director Miss Geneva (Ashlie “T.K.” Sowers), and the lovestruck pastor Justin Waverly (Brendan Berndt), the Christmas pageant devolves into hilarious hijinks.
The play was anchored by the cast’s convincing chemistry. The connections between the actors created the small-town atmosphere that balanced the outrageous plot of the play. Such a balance was crucial in illustrating the realistic characters despite their admittedly caricatured personalities.
Blasko conveyed Honey Raye’s determined but desperate mindset well by maintaining a strong poise while perfecting a catty tone of voice to express her frustration over the growing number of problems. As Twink, Holt infused a devious charm into her persona to portray the revenge-bent felon. And as perhaps the most lovable Futrelle sister of them all, Amaro exuded a motherly aura and down-to-earth attitude that helped focus the story’s prevailing joyful mood. Together, the three sisters’ sharp, sarcastic banter was a key source of humor throughout the play.
The other members of the ensemble also blended physical and verbal comedy to drive the humor of the play. As Dub, Putt boisterously erupted upon the stage around in kidney-stone induced pain, creating an absurd running gag. Norris’s innocence as Gina Jo provided a great contrast to Berndt’s eagerness as Justin Waverly in chasing after her. Sowers infused a diva attitude into her persona to express Miss Geneva’s grudge against being ousted from directing the Christmas pageant. But Lopez stole the show with his impeccable timing and physicality, nonchalantly pointing his gun at other characters as he matter-of-factly assessed the absurdity of his surroundings.
As Frankie’s optimistic friend Rhonda Lynn Lampley, Erica Hagen acted as a great foil to the narcissistic Honey Raye and Twink. Morgan Plitt’s melodramatic air captured the egotism of the town actress Patsy Price. And DaSean Young conveyed the childlike charm of the adorable Christmas enthusiast turned shepherd Raynerd Chisum.
Many artistic choices enhanced the authentic feeling of the play. The sparse set of the production – consisting of a few gray walls adorned with garland and wreaths to represent the backstage area – and the purposefully spotty lighting during the play within a play reflected the low-budget, amateur atmosphere of the Christmas pageant itself. Projected images on a screen with different locales helped keep track of the many scene changes and a live orchestra during the pageant scenes allowed smooth transitions between the program and backstage.
Overall, Long Reach’s production of Christmas Belles added a whole new meaning to the adage that’s there no place like home for the holidays, offering a festive glimpse into the antics of the Futrelle family and friends!
Complete with a polar bear, a kidney-stone suffering Santa, and Elvis himself, Christmas could only be this lively at Long Reach High School’s production of Christmas Belles!
Set in Fayro, Texas, the play focuses on the Futrelle Sisters, Frankie, Twink, and Honey Raye, as they face the holiday season overstressed and underprepared. While Frankie has to carry about with her overdue second pair of twins, Twink has been incarcerated after burning half the town while trying to get back at her unfaithful ex. Additionally, Honey Raye must rebuild her reputation by running the Christmas production at the Tabernacle of the Lamb. But of course, chaos ensues when Miss Geneva attempts to steal the show from Honey Raye and the cast falls sick due to food poisoning. All the while, the Futrelle sisters must come to terms with a family secret.
Despite the pandemonium in Fayro, the ensemble cast performed excellently amidst the turbulence, bringing forth an entertaining production that was full of energy.
Carson Blasko, playing Honey Raye, brought the perfect amount of Southern sass to her role. With her broad smiles and dramatic gestures, she captured the over-the-top persona of Honey Raye. Gabrielle Amaro as Frankie played an excellent mediator for the other characters while maintaining Frankie’s cranky nature as a pregnant mother. Cecelia Holt, playing Twink Futrelle, effectively utilized dark expressions to portray the scheming quality of her character.
The supporting cast anchored the leads with their strong performances. Doug Putt as Dub Dubberly delighted the audience with his physical comedy. Additionally, he worked in sync with Amaro as their characters wallowed in pain, portrayed best by their hysterical, dance-like, walking sequence. Another well-paired couple included Brendan Berndt as Justin Waverly and Mareya Norris as Gina Jo Dubberly. The heartfelt feeling between the two characters brought a true sense of endearment despite the comedic nature of the play. Stephen Lopez, playing John Curtis Buntner, showed thought and deliberation in his role through his impeccable timing as he delivered his lines while whirling his revolver around. Additionally, DaSean Young played a hilarious, yet lovable Raynerd Chisum as he sent the audience cackling with every “I just love Christmas!”
The set design, including a projected background, worked well with the episodic nature of the play, easily being manipulated to accommodate the various scene changes. However, the costumes and makeup design truly set the seasonal tone of the play. The production was replete with Christmas related apparel and though the some ensembles seemed slightly garish, the costumes truly reflected the dramatic nature of the Futrelle family. Glowing makeup also helped get the audience into the holiday spirit along with the transitional holiday music which occasionally directly relates to the preceding events onstage.
The crude ridiculousness of the Futrelle family may seem out of place in relation to the holiday season, but Long Reach’s production emphasized the underlying heartfelt quality of the sisters and truly captured the warm feelings that drive the holidays.
Long Reach’s Christmas Belles both uproarious and endearing
With Southern twangs, eccentric characters, and holiday music in full swing, Long Reach High School’s production of Christmas Belles stole laughs and smiles, capturing all the quirks of the colorful small town of Fayro, Texas.
Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholar Hope, and Jamie Wooten, Christmas Belles focuses on the lives of the Futrelle sisters, a dysfunctional family living in a small Texan town. In an episodic, sitcom-like style, Frankie, “the fertile,” Honey Raye, “the flirt,” and Twink, “the felon,” go through ups and downs with one another as Fayro prepares for its annual Christmas time traditions. However, no matter how many bizarre circumstances come their way, the Futrelles manage to pull through, growing closer and stronger along the way.
Honey Raye (Carson Blasko), Twink (Cecelia Holt), and Frankie (Gabrielle Amaro) shared a natural chemistry, each maintaining their own individual personalities, while still creating an air of sisterhood. Honey Raye strutted confidently throughout the stage, declaring her thoughts loudly and proudly to showcase a larger than life, flirtatious personality. A pregnant Frankie exhibited natural maternal instincts for both her sisters and children. Simple motions, a mere rubbing of her pregnant stomach, were convincing enough to remind the audience of her strains and burdens. Meanwhile, Twink shined as well, with smug looks and saucy comments that suggested a rebellious thirst for revenge.
Other standout characters included the town’s sheriff, John Curtis Bunter (Stephen Lopez). Waving his gun about sporadically, John Curtis captivated the audience with his quick jokes and wit. Small details, a simple raising and lowering of his sunglasses, were memorable in themselves, manifesting various sides to the sheriff’s personality. Similarly, Justin Waverly (Brendan Berndt) delivered a poignant performance as the town’s preacher. Justin showcased a range of emotions, from hopeful sincerity to utter frustration, in his quest for love.
The set production was simple, yet versatile, allowing the many scenes of the production to transition seamlessly. A variety of Christmas music, as well as a live quartet, also aided in these transitions and created a sense of holiday spirit.
Overall, Long Reach High School’s performance of Christmas Belles was both comical and touching, ultimately leaving its audience with the sentiment of the time-old saying: families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts.
The Christmas Belles are Ringing With Feuding and Fun
“Getting ready for the holidays with family is a little like baptizing a cat.” If you can relate to this assessment, you’ll want to see this show. A production full of chaos and comedy, Christmas Belles performed at Long Reach High School is an enjoyable look into some crazy family affairs.
The “fertile, flirt, and felon,” or the Futrelle Sisters, are all working on getting into the Christmas spirit in their small town of Fayro, Texas. Frankie (Gabrielle Amaro) is weeks overdue with her second set of twins and Twink (Cecelia Holt) is vengeful and in jail for setting half of her town on fire while their sister, Honey Raye (Carson Blasko), is trying to redeem herself as director of the Tabernacle of Lamb’s Christmas Program. Each girl has her issues and the men involved, Dub Dubberly (Doug Putt), Justin Waverly (Brendan Berndt), and John Curtis Buntner (Stephen Lopez), simultaneously try to juggle them with their own.
The authenticity the actors brought to their characters and the way in which they interacted with one another was truly impressive. Amaro, pregnant throughout the play, held onto her character with every movement she made, using her husband to help her get up and grabbing her lower back when she felt pains. Holt looked dashing in her bright orange jumpsuit and delivered quick and witty lines while Blasko pranced around in her high heels and embodied the woman that is Honey Raye.
Putt and Amaro captured the husband-and-wife dynamic well as Holt and Lopez flirted with charm, and Berndt was the perfect love-struck, baffled gentlemen with his girlfriend Gina Jo “G.J” Dubberly (Mareya Norris). They all played off of one another well, reacting in a realistic manner and executing the fitting body language—not to mention the noteworthy way in which every character maintained a convincing southern accent.
The two-standout performances were that of Lopez, who played the town sheriff, and Norris, who was Frankie’s sweet, naïve girl just trying to keep her family together. Lopez’s tendency to swing around his pistol and deliberately tip his cowboy hat or take off his aviators as he delivered his lines was humorous as well as entertaining. Meanwhile, Norris seemed to float around the stage with her goodwill and charming country dialect.
There were numerous set changes, and the directorial choices seemed to put that into consideration. There were simple, movable walls that could transform into numerous settings and slides in the background of the stage oriented the audience with the location of each scene. The Christmas music that accompanied each transition fit with the storyline well and the play within the play was executed very agreeably.
The perfect play for this year’s season’s greetings, Christmas Bells provides a good lesson and the reassurance that your family gatherings aren’t as bad as you may have thought.
Christmas Belles; A Christmas Pageant Gone Horribly… Right
Picture a traditional Christmas pageant in a quaint Texas church. I’m sure what you imagined was not a two-person polar bear costume, an appearance from Elvis, or a marriage proposal during the nativity scene. Such was the unique havoc of the Futrelle Christmas in Long Reach‘s presentation of Christmas Belles, a comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten.
The show opens with Geneva Musgrave expressing her anger that the promiscuous Honey Rae Futrelle took her place as director of this year’s Christmas pageant. The Futrelle sisters, also including the very pregnant Frankie and the incarcerated Twink, do not have the best reputation around town, and their dysfunctional family is showcased explicitly throughout the show. The audience is taken through a whirlwind of internal drama between the sisters and some startling family news, as well as between Frankie and her husband’s kidney stone and their daughter’s boyfriend, and between the sisters and the other residents of the town.
The two actors that stood out were Stephan Lopez and Gabrielle Amaro. Lopez portrayed John Curtis Buntner, the goofy sheriff who was always able to add some comic relief despite having to control Twink and take the place of Elvis in the pageant. His bouncing emotion allowed him to showcase brilliantly staged moves, such as sliding out the door-- a dramatic statement of the urgency of his mission. Amaro shined as Frankie Futrelle Dubberly with a beautiful southern accent and the penguin-like walk of a woman on the verge of her second birth. She did well to anchor the show and be probably the only sane person onstage, although she did have her moments of humor.
Morgan Plitt played the heartless Patsy Price. She very successfully portrayed a mean spirited and undermining woman, but did even better during her unexpected yet hilarious rendition of “A Christmas Carol”. DaSean Young played the adorable Raynerd Chisum, an avid fan of Christmas. His presence was always accompanied by the laughs of the audience and, of course, his bright red wagon.
Although there were a few technical glitches, the cast and crew remained unaffected, continuing the show with the same vivacity throughout. The modern Christmas music that played during scene changes was a creative touch, adding an even more modern feel to the show and putting the audience in a quite jolly mood. Having a live band for the pageant was also a clever idea, which helped bring the audience into the scene, especially when the actors spoke directly to them.
Christmas Belles, under the direction of Marla Blasko, was a wonderful show that humorously welcomed the audience to the upcoming holiday season because, as Raynerd Chisum so nicely put it, “I just love Christmas”.
Christmas Belles is Theatrical Disorder at its Finest!
It's Christmas time again! But why does everyone on stage appear to be so absent of the holiday spirit? Presented by Long Reach High School, Christmas Belles takes a trip through Christmas time in present-day Texas in a comical satire of the physical and mental pains of bringing a community together for the holidays.
In the small town of Fayro, Texas, the Futrelle sisters have come together for Christmas Eve, but none of them have come under the best of circumstances. Honey Raye (Carson Blasko) has taken charge of directing the local Christmas pageant at the church in hopes that it will help to mend her reputation, long broken from a past of having been with almost every man in town. Twink (Cecelia Holt) is helping out with the pageant on work detail from the local jail, having been arrested for burning down half of the town in a quest for vengeance against her boyfriend gone terribly wrong. Frankie (Gabrielle Amaro) is pregnant, overdue with a set of twins and in danger of going into labor at any minute. Chaos ensues as this wide array of personalities and backgrounds collide to try and save a Christmas pageant rapidly spiraling towards disaster.
The most impressive element of the show was the small-town feel that was captured by the actors. Christmas Belles takes place in a small southern town, and this was made believable through the interaction on stage. The actors responded to one another's dialogue in a way that felt like everyone was familiar with everyone else, as would be common is a small town. In a way, the laid-back atmosphere of the production helped to the audience to relax and become more immersed in the world of the play.
Gabrielle Amaro did a particularly nice job in her role. Playing an overdue pregnant woman is not an easy task, but she pulled it off well, especially with her physical portrayal of the character. Sitting down was transparently difficult for her, and getting back up was an obstacle all its own. The audience felt her unease with each step. Such a connection between the actor and the audience is difficult to achieve, and she should be commended for accomplishing that.
The vibrant cast surrounding the Futrelle sisters did an excellent job in adding to the hilarity and the disorder that was already going on. John Curtis Butner (Stephen Lopez), the police officer in charge of watching Twink, runs onto stage with comedic timing, waving his revolver around nonchalantly as he speaks. Dub Dubberly (Doug Putt) howls across the stage as he struggles with passing a kidney stone. Raynerd Chisum (DaSean Young) strides through the fray, proudly pulling his wagon behind him. Such a wide variety of personalities on stage comes together to create a colorful mosaic of blissful disarray.
The key to the costume design of the show was simplicity. The characters of Christmas Belles are anything but fancy, and their clothing helped to realistically reflect that. Outfits ranged from denim jeans and cowboy boots to leggings and Frankie's humorous "baby on board" t-shirt, but all of them remained believably humble and in place with the time period.
A Christmas that will never be forgotten…for the whole town
Review written by: Melissa Kleinberger
“I just love Christmas!” Isn’t it just like the holidays to pull out the best in everyone? Christmas Belles performed by our very own Long Reach High School was a spectacular show of how sisters can stick together through it all; no matter how bad it may seem at points.
In the small town of Faryo, Texas the Futrelle sisters, Frankie (Gabrielle Amaro), Twink (Cecelia Holt), and Honey Raye (Carson Blasko) are not in a cheery holiday mood. Frankie, who is pregnant with twins and way past her due date, is trying to keep things together and keep people from tearing each other apart. Amaro performed with such art, very graceful even for a pregnant woman, who demanded the stage with her subtle presence yet strong character. Her chemistry with the other actors was amazing, and she really was the link that held everyone together. Twink, recently broken up bitterly from a relationship, is in jail for nearly setting half of their town on fire trying to get back at her ex. Holt portrayed the anxious and bitter Twink perfectly. From the revenge seeking heart within her you can see how she’s pressing against her sisters trying to get even with the ex that left her broken hearted. And the other sister Honey Raye, the girl who has “been with” most of the town and is just hoping to redeem herself in the town. “I don’t know why they call it menopause! There is no pause in it!” Suffering from sporadic hot flashes, this sister is hopelessly trying to put on a Christmas pageant at the church, but nothing seems to be going right for her. Then on top of it all Frankie caught up in the heat of the moment, let loose the huge family secret that startles even her sisters. They are not really sure who they can put their trust into now, for nothing is as it seemed.
The sweet, kind hearted mother Frankie had a husband who was going through similar pains. Dub Dubberly (Doug Putt) who was passing a kidney stone through the whole show was gaining a huge connection to Frankie. The two of them going through similar situations really brought the married couple together. Though a slightly smaller part in the production, the sheriff John Curtis Buntner (Stephen Lopez) made himself known. Despite Lopez only showing up in some scenes, he had such a remarkable characterization that it left me second guessing if we were still in Maryland and not really down south in Texas. His true southern accent was phenomenal, and his timing was impeccable. The way he was so nonchalant in swinging his guns around and pointing them at people added to his relaxed calm way of living. On the contrary to the sheriff was the young pastor, Justin Waverly (Brendan Berndt) who was so kind hearted and honest that he really was a believable character. When proposing to his love, he just says it with such love that it held the audience by a thread threatening to snap at any moment. Berndt played his character with such sincerity that he really pulled our hearts into the show.
A small set with little to it, I was a little disappointed to see the lack of a painted set background. Instead the background was projected on a large screen, and while it can have its advantages at times, I was still disappointed at their lack to use it as such a tool, and how they used it in place of a very well built set.
Overall, the production had great actors who had such amazing chemistry with each other, that the show was really believable as far as the people went. They are the kind of people you expect to walk past when you go shopping, and those truly believable characters is what brought this show alive. So with that I bid you all a Merry Christmas, because “I just love Christmas!”.
What else would you expect in a Christmas program besides pregnancy, prisoners, and proposals?
Long Reach High School’s production of Christmas Belles included, but was certainly not limited to, all of these spectacles. This television sit-com like comedy centers around three sisters living in a lower class Texas town, trying to sort out their issues in time for the holidays. The middle-aged sisters Honey Raye Futrelle (Carson Blasko), Tink Futrelle (Cecelia Holt), and Frankie Futrelle Dubberly (Gabrielle Amaro) must put up with each other and a few unexpected surprises as they prepare for the Christmas festivities.
Each of the three sisters is equipped with her own pressing problems. Amaro shuffled about the stage holding her back, illustrating the pains of a woman pregnant with twins. Holt kept her cool as a prisoner finally allowed out of her cell, and Blasko strutted around with her newly gained confidence as director of the annual Christmas program.
Among the other crazy characters was John Curtis Bunter (Stephen Lopez), the sheriff in charge of keeping an eye on Twink. His impeccably timed delivery of lines and carefully thought out movements resulted in a hilariously quirky cop who could often be caught twirling his gun around to point at innocent passer-bys.
Throughout the entire play, the actors retained believable southern accents, emphasizing the small town setting. The actors also wore casual, everyday clothes, further revealing their informal nature.
Reminiscent of comedy show episodes, the play was structured in short, cheesy joke-filled scenes. Each quick scene transitioned to the next with a different Christmas song playing, keeping the audience involved even when the stage was black.
From a distressed Santa Claus to a revengeful criminal, Long Reach’s production had it all. If your family holiday is starting to feel a bit dull, Christmas Belles is not a show to miss.
“Christmas Belles” rings loud, true and sweet at Long Reach
It’s a few days before Christmas, and the Futrelle sisters are in a tizzy. There’s Honey Raye, who’s frantically directing a Christmas extravaganza to save her dashed reputation, Twink, the felon recently released from prison and bent on revenge, and Frankie, who’s severely pregnant and just trying to keep everyone together until she herself pops. These “belles” aren’t your typical mild-mannered ladies of the South, but they are capable of raising a hilarious, heartwarming racket in Long Reach High School’s “Christmas Belles.”
Set in the slow-moving, gossip-ridden small town of Fayro, Texas, the audience immediately feels like some country music, sweet potato pie, and kicking back on a porch swing with the sassy drawl of Miss Geneva Musgrave (Ashlie Sowers) as she introduces us to her flower shop. Soon, we meet the famous (or infamous) Futrelles, and whole motley cast of characters. One’s an Elvis impersonator, one’s about to propose to the love of their life, and one is not who they appear to be - but it’s all just another Christmas season in Fayro.
Gina Jo, or “G.J” (Mareya Norris), is Frankie’s daughter, the quintessential, innocent, Southern girl-next-door, whom Norris epitomizes with her sweet, girly mannerisms and light Southern speaking voice. Her father, Frankie’s husband, is the overworked, straight-talking Dub Dubberly (Doug Putt), who works extra shifts as the local Santa Claus to support his family despite a passing kidney stone. Putt portrayed Dub’s exhaustion and concern perfectly, as he attempts to comfort his wife and deal with her difficult family.
Then there’s the fast-talking John Curtis Buntner, expertly played by Stephen Lopez, the county sheriff trying to keep Twink in line. Lopez hilariously embodied the would-be big-shot sheriff with every removal of his eyeglasses or perfectly timed delivery. Brendan Berndt was equally believable as the love-struck pastor, Justin Waverly. His sincere performance allowed for more tender moments in the production, as DaSean Young’s did in the role of Raynerd Chisum. Young’s endearing, sometimes uncomfortably honest remarks and childlike movements moved the audience to both hysterics and poignant silence. Morgan Plitt was perfectly nasty as the stuck-up bully of the Futrelle sisters, Patsy Price, while Erica Hagen acted just sweetly enough as the neighborly, well-meaning Rhonda Lynn.
But it’s the “belles” of Fayro who move the show. Carson Blasko as the flirtatious, desperate Honey Raye proved an engaging, commanding presence, and an entertaining comedic foil alongside her sister, Twink, played by Cecelia Holt. Holt encapsulated the dark, sarcastic humor, yet vulnerability, of her love-stung character, as she plots revenge on an unfaithful boyfriend. Gabrielle Amaro, as Frankie, remarkably convincingly waddled around the stage in constant discomfort, sometimes yelling in frustration, otherwise sharing a tender moment with her equally pained husband.
The tacky Christmas sweaters and simple scenery enhanced the atmosphere of the low-income, down-home South that the characters already created, as did Powerpoint slides and Country-Western Christmas music between stages. A fast-moving, effective crew ensured that each scene flowed into the next, almost in the style of a sitcom.
With a Christmas show out of Caesar’s Palace and a Santa Claus with a kidney stone, “Christmas Belles” is not your typical family-oriented holiday play. Yet with the quick-paced jokes and undeniably comforting flavor of the South, it’s a treat for the eyes, ears and heart that can’t be missed.
Long Reach High School spreads Christmas cheer despite some tacky holiday sweaters
What better way to get in the holiday spirit than putting on a Christmas program? Unless it’s a show organized by the Futrelle sisters, of course. As the disasters pile up for the play within a play during Long Reach’s production of Christmas Belles it seems more like the sisters are headed for Bedlam, not Bethlehem.
What starts out as a fun way to spread holiday cheer in the small town of Fayro, Texas quickly spirals into a massive disaster. And it doesn’t help that the three Futrelle sisters who are directing the show each have their own problems to deal with: Honey Raye, the perpetual tease, has had a “slight flirtation” with just about every cast member; Twink is a convicted felon charged with burning down half the town; Frankie is weeks overdue with her second set of twins. Can the Futrelle sisters get their act together in time to spread the spirit in Fayro or will they be having a “Blue Christmas”?
Every town needs a good sheriff, just as every farce needs a solid comedian, and Long Reach was blessed with the hilarious Stephen Lopez as Sheriff John Curtis Buntner. Through his impeccable timing, good delivery, and spot-on Elvis impersonation (though he drew the line at hip-swiveling) Lopez created a character that never failed to garner a laugh. Similarly, Gabrielle Amaro as the motherly Frankie Futrelle Dubberly developed her character exceptionally well. She extended her matronly affection not only to her own children but to the rest of her family and friends as well, affecting a sense of togetherness that is always welcome this time of year.
Miss Geneva Musgrave, played by the sassy Ashlie “T.K.” Sowers, usually puts together the Christmas program, but not this year. She exuded her bitterness well through the dark glares and harsh insults she hurled at her rival, Honey Raye. And then there was DaSean Young as Raynerd Chisum, the loveable boy who refused to go anywhere without his little red wagon and earned his moment in the spotlight (literally) when he assumed center stage to explain the true meaning of Christmas amidst all the madness taking place around him.
The play was comprised of numerous short scenes reminiscent of a television sitcom. Set transitions followed each scene, and the stage crew completed each change as efficiently as possible. The set itself was markedly plain, which gave it a small town atmosphere. Projected slides replaced traditional painted backdrops but still managed to effectively enhance the set and erase any confusion that might have arisen from the numerous scene changes.
Underneath all the unfortunate Christmas sweaters it was obvious that the cast and crew of Long Reach High School had a heartwarming holiday message to share, and share it they did.