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By D. A. Blackburn
What's your favorite Christmas story? Is it A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or The Grinch? What about your favorite carol? Whatever your choice, there's a good chance it's part of the tidy package that is the Williamston Theatre's holiday offering, Every Christmas Story Ever Told!!
As the title implies, the show is a hilarious romp through the stories, music and traditions of the holiday season, from Dickens to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and just about everything in between. Even familiar holiday commercials - like the one with Santa riding a Norelco electric razor - provide comedic fodder.
And, the show is smattered with a wealth of holiday trivia - some real, some not. Examples include the fact that Rudolph remains the trademarked creation of a Montgomery Ward's ad executive (becoming Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat in Every Story to avoid a lawsuit) and insinuations about Christmas traditions around the world.
At the Williamston, the production has become a Christmas tradition - 2008 marks its third year. This season, the show comes to life with the company's original cast and director, and though the company plans to retire the work after its conclusion, they've also given it an elegant new staging and refreshed the script.
The three-man cast (Chris Korte, Joseph Albright and Aral Gribble) seem to share a genuine affinity for the work, and for each other. They share a good chemistry and superb comedic timing throughout Every Story, and on opening night, all earned big laughs from the near-capacity crowd.
The script, written by Michael Carlton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, is packed with significant comedy, but the work really comes to life in the hands of Korte, Albright and Gribble. Much of the show's humor lies in its physical presentation, through props and the individual performers. In both areas, Williamston's production succeeds with ease. All three performers are adept with this type of work, and the company's production staff has hit the mark perfectly in all aspects of design.
Props and costuming, particularly, are exceptionally well executed. One of the show's funniest moments comes when Albright appears on stage as a parade balloon - handlers and all. Another comes when all three act out The Nutcracker ballet - tutus and all.
As a total package, Every Story is a neatly wrapped holiday experience, drawing on familiar traditions and stories to create a fun and unique night of theater. Three great performers and a laugh-a-minute script are sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
Williamston Theatre, 122 S. Putnam Rd., Williamston. Thursday-Sunday through Dec. 21. Tickets: $18-$24. For information: 517-655-7469 or www.williamstontheatre.org.
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