If your reindeer get lost in Jamaica…
Theatre On the Inside-Out workshop kids deliver a humorous holiday-themed show
Seven young talented actors put on a generally very funny show out at the Chico Cabaret last Saturday afternoon. The performance was the culminating experience of a Theatre On the Inside-Out workshop helmed by longtime local children’s theater director Lisa Schmidt. I’ve got to hand it to Schmidt. She’s got a keen sense of humor and seems to know exactly how to draw the best out of her pupils. Her faith in them is unswerving.
And the results show.
Last Saturday, from the stage Schmidt announced that this was the children’s theater’s second improv show, proudly adding that Theatre On the Inside-Out, under the auspices of the Chico Cabaret, had put on no fewer than eight children’s productions in 2001. That said, she introduced her young all-female cast and proceeded to act as moderator for the audience and the actors, often asking the viewers for suggestions as the girls entered a new improv game. In fact, true to the nature of improv, we in the audience all soon felt we were also another aspect of the show.
Schmidt’s young cast was up to the challenge. Varying in ages from 6 to 11, the girls did have a few blank-drawing moments as one or another was put on the spot for quickly coming up with a bit. But generally each of them pulled it out in time. Quickest of all most often was tall, red-haired Katie Morrison. She often handled the narration solo or with another whenever the group enacted a plot-twisting storyline.
One of the more amusing was a tale wherein Santa (Cypress Durkin) informs Rudolph the “red-haired” Reindeer (Samantha Robie) that the flying herbivore will have to deliver some Christmas goodies solo this year; Santa’s just got too much goin’ on. In spite of a legendary glowing nose, even a gifted young flying reindeer can have a bad day, and Rudolph’s little trip becomes just that—he and two reindeer pals get lost in Jamaica, mon. But everything’s eventually put to right: Santa comes to the rescue. And the once bewildered reindeer are allowed to unwind and shake off their anxieties by tanning on the Caribbean beach!
Another amusing routine was a more-or-less spontaneously generated “time machine.” Each of the girls—Katie Morrison, Nakiah Baggett, Dawn Hulfish, Hannah Robie, Cypress Durkin, Alyssa Garcia and Samantha Robie—became a different moving part of the machine, each producing a rhythmically appropriate squeak, click or murmur as needed. This is actually a fairly standard improvisational bit, but its humor rests in the syncopation of the performers. The girls did a great job.
Admittedly, you can’t enter a show like this with the same criteria you would an adult theatrical performance. And while many young thespians occasionally exhibit a dramatic understanding seemingly beyond their years, what one really looks for in child performers is enthusiasm. In that, each of these young ladies was marvelous. We can only hope to enjoy more of their performances in the future.