Christmas Belles, a new production of a play celebrating its 10th year, is currently spreading holiday cheer at The City Theatre in Austin. To paraphrase a line in the play itself, this is a Class A Southern Comedy.
According to one character, "Laughter is the only medicine we can afford that doesn't come from Canada." The laughter created by the play is infectious, but since this is a Christmas play that is a good thing.
There are 11 members in this ensemble cast, each of whom portray their roles with aplomb. No easy matter, as the dialogue and plot are so outrageous. The play is opened by a real spitfire actress, Nikki Bora, whose character of Miss Geneva is the nexus around which the prime plotline revolves. A portrayal worthy of an award.
Her nemesis in the play is Honey Raye Futrelle, portrayed with endearing and vexatious qualities in equal measure by Christina Manley. As the lead photo shows, Honey Raye is none too happy with Miss Geneva, who eventually proves to be her saviour in the production of a Christmas play by the small Texas town's Tabernacle of the Lamb church. This play within a play serves as a foil for an unending sequence of disasters of Biblical proportions, thus giving the other members of the play the opportunity to shine: Cassidy Timms, Beau Paul, Dawn Erin, R. Michael Clinkscales, Giselle Marie Munoz, Robyn Gammill, Ty Wylie, Brent Rose and Danielle Bondurant. The second photo shows a silly moment as Brother Justin (Wylie), dressed as a reindeer, confides his Christmas wish to Santa (Clinkscales).
One member of the audience told me that having lived in Texas for several years, he clearly saw the resemblance between some of the characters and true life. The play (by the powerhouse trio Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten), is so unsophisticated it was enjoyable, but no so unsophisticated it became corny. A true delight, and one I highly recommend for a fine Austin Christmas.
Finally, kudos to Scout Gutzmerson for a fine job in her first stage costuming credit.
Performances run through Dec. 30, 2017. For more info visit the website: www.citytheatreaustin.org
Photo credit: Aleks Ortynski.