By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
As pantos go, this one's just our cuppa.————
Trouble sleeping? Try Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity at Addison's WaterTower Theatre. Performed in whispery tones, directed and acted at a pace so sluggish you'll think your watch has stopped, this hokey musical is better than hot milk and Ambien for making eyelids droop.
The script by Preston Lane has a country preacher (Bill Jenkins, overdoing the folksiness) and his ill-clad flock telling Bible stories in hillbilly patois. They start with Genesis: "In the beginnin' there weren't nuthin." It only gets worse. And it only gets through highlights of the Old Testament by intermission. The second long half mumbles through the Gospels, with King Herod exclaiming, "Dagnabbit, I'm-a royalty."
Actor Russell DeGrazier as Joseph finds some integrity in interpreting the material and he has a strong singing voice, the best in a 15-member cast. The rest is a mind-numbing muddle of weak bluegrass and bad grammar.