Christmas comes early thanks to the group over at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. Nouveau 47 is back with the second annual A Very Nouveau Holiday, and keeping with the group's commitment to developing new works, the entire show is 100 percent new. All ten of the plays are premieres from local playwrights--which is refreshing, and dare I say, a Christmas miracle?
A Very Nouveau Holiday is representative of how the Margo Jones Theatre stays occupied throughout the year, filled with an array of small companies. From Soul Rep Theatre to Nouveau, to Audacity Theatre Lab, these theater troupes keep the billing fresh and varied, and you'll see a sampling of each of their individual style in Nouveau Holiday.
So what does Nouveau 47 have in store for us? It's a holiday show without a traditional Rudolph or Scrooge, though the latter does get a treatment from playwright Matthew James Edwards.
In CODENAME: Ghost Protocol, Edwards places his ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future in a world where Maxwell Smart and Ethan Hunt would feel comfortable. I'm talking spies, covert cover-ups, and a grumpy Scrooge-like husband--Christmas has always needed a little intrigue, right?
Another classic, The Gift of the Magi, also gets a little sprucing up by playwright Jim Kuenzer (directed by Alex Bigus). This time around, the couple that is desperate to find the right presents for each other, is embodied by a type of person that BuzzFeed tells us wears flannel, drinks PBR, and always rocks a mustache. Hipsters. It only makes sense. Kuenzer's Gift of the Hipster Magi is true for my life. I want to ride my bike to Marfa. To the land of my people. If I can ever find Marfa.
Many of these plays do what we all do at Christmas: look back into the past, mend relationships and reach out for acceptance from somebody or something in their lives. Ben Schroth's Before I Sleep is a flashback to Christmas Eve and an endearing walk down memory lane with a mother and her daughter. Kelsey Johnson's Wall of Color examines the anxiety of a lesbian couple on the eve of their engagement and meeting one of women's families for the first time.
In Nouveau 47 fashion, comedy reigns supreme as in Brad McEntire's Corner Office Sky. Without giving too much away here, this corporate holiday party doesn't quite go the way it was planned. Kevin Fuld's Christmas Drinks puts some plotting angels in a bar to fret over their Christmas meddling. Then, Reasoning for the Seasoning, written by Virgil--a nom de plume--takes us back to that bar, but this time the patrons are Santa Claus, Kwanzaa Claus, and Hanukkah "Claus." Even Jesus makes an appearance. Then, there's Bill Otstott's The Secret Lives of Elves. What happens in Santa's workshop when the elves go on break? Is there a secret elf union? What do elves eat for lunch? What do elves like to stream on YouTube? Otstott has his answer, and it's hilarious.
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But with comedy always comes the darker side of things, and what holiday is complete without a little drama? I Spend Christmas Alone by Justin Locklear looks at what happens behind closed doors in a household plagued by alcoholism and regrets. David Bernard Houck's Christmas Time is Queer Again is a story of a young gay couple and their respective families coming to terms with their sexuality and life choices.
Each member of the cast is challenged by the fast-paced nature of the plays--each is 10 minutes--the quick set changes, and the length of the production, it runs about two hours, and they all handled it competently. What is interesting about this cast of characters were all the new faces: DeWayne Blundell, Johanna Nchekwube, Maxim Overton, and Maya Pearson. A student at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Pearson held her own, sharing the stage with these more seasoned actors, and she fit right in. Her versatility, quickness, and comic timing show a lot of promise.
But there is a special surprise in store, producer Erin Singleton told me, for those who attend on Thursdays and Saturdays. Santa, also know as Kris Noteboom, will be doing some special performances along with fellow theater critic Lance Lusk. "No word yet on whether he will allow people to pose for pictures on his lap," says Singleton, "but he might be willing if you bring some milk and cookies, or maybe his favorite kind of beer."
Festivities begin at 8:15 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays with 2:15 p.m. Sunday matinees December 11-21 at the Margo Jones Theatre in the Magnolia Lounge at Fair Park, 1121 1st Ave. Dallas. $15.