Category Archive for: ‘Kedar K. Adour’

A Christmas Memory: The Musical will not replace A Christmas Carol

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY: A Musical Adaptation. Book by Duane Poole based on the short story by Truman Capote. Music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Carol Hall. Directed by Nick DeGruccio. The Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA. 949-497-2787 or

A Christmas Memory: The Musical will not replace A Christmas Carol

Truman Capote’s short story A Christmas Memory was an instant classic when it first appeared in “Mademoiselle” magazine in December 1956. Since that time it has been a mainstay on radio and is extremely popular as stage dramatizations. One of the finest was by the Word for Word Company’s presentation in the San Francisco Bay area. In that staging the story is acted with the actual words including the “he said” and “she said” etc. It is a perfect way to present Capote’s beautiful writing.  In this musical adaptation many of those words poignantly drift across the footlights with fine actors skillfully giving meaning to their lines.

However, one might wonder why a musical version is necessary. It is not necessary but the Laguna Playhouse Company is giving it a valiant and often heart touching rendition and this reviewer reservedly gives it a “thumbs up.”

The use of a narrator, in the mode of Our Town is essential in keeping with the style of the short story. The adept staging by Nick DeGruccio on the attractive atmospheric open set (D Martyn Bookwalter) allows the story to flow. It is a semi-autobiographical memory play of Capote’s early life in rural Alabama during the Great Depression that often tugs at your heart wishing for less materialistic times.

In the story, seven year old Buddy (William Spangler) is the unwanted child who is sent off to live with distant cousins. The members of the house are poor and include the elderly child-like Sook (Marsha Waterbury), her sister Jennie (Tracy Lore) the supporting head of the household, ineffectual brother Seabon (Tom Shelton) and the mangy-loveable dog Queenie (Pickle).

Outside the household there is the friendly neighbor Anna Stabler (Amber Mercomes) and young buddy’s friend and partner in shenanigans Nelle Harper (Siena Yusi). Tom Shelton does triple duty as the inquisitive postman Farley and HaHa Jones the moonshiner who supplies the secret ingredient (liquor) for the fruit cakes made with loving care by young buddy and Sook, to the charming song “Alabama Fruitcake.”

 Before ubiquitous fruitcakes enter the picture, the narrator Adult Buddy (Ciaran McCarthy) and the company set the tone with a nostalgic “Imagine a Morning.” Attractive McCarthy has an expressive tenor voice that gives depth to his solos of “What’s Next” and “Paper and Cotton.” In the second act his versatility is displayed in the trio “Nothing More Than Stars” blending seamlessly with the baritone voice of Shelton and the prepubescent voice of Spangler.

The adult members of the cast (all Equity actors) are excellent performers bringing their characters to life and adding further class with fine singing voices. Marsha Waterbury’s depiction of Sook is a joy to watch and a pleasure to hear in her duets with young Buddy and the tear producing “The Kite Song.” Amber Mercomes gets her turn to shine with “Detour” and Tracy Lore gains our understanding with “You Don’t Know It.”  William Spangler’s taxing role as young Buddy does not quite create the needed empathy written into the story line.

Running time 2 hours and 15 minutes including an intermission.

Production Staff: Scenic designer D Martyn BookWalter; Costume designer Bruce Goodrich; Lighting designer Steve Young; Sound designer Joshua McKendry; Stage managers Don Hill and Luke Yankee; Musical Director Darryl Archibald. Musicians Darryl Archibald, Tyler Emerson and Drew Hemwell.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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