This production was scheduled November 17-December 31, 2023.
What’s on your wish list for the holiday season to come? And do you contribute—as in, take concrete action—to help Santa make your wishes come true?
Amelia Mello’s holiday wish is “for the whole world to be filld (sic) with joy,” and as one of two young actors this year playing Tiny Tim in The Great American Melodrama’s version of A Christmas Carol, she and her fellow players certainly aren’t waiting around for Santa to do all the work.
Joy abounds in this year’s Holiday Extravaganza, which begins with the Dickens classic and proceeds to add to the evening’s merriment with a second-act fractured fairytale operetta (Goldilocks & the Three Bears, not exactly the old tale you might remember), and a concluding vaudeville review that gives us saucy new material without denying us the Melodrama classics we expect (all right, spoiler alert: the reindeer rap and the glass orchestra are both back!).
This season’s A Christmas Carol is adapted and directed by Michael Brusasco, smartly and skillfully getting to the heart of our most well-known story about second chances. The sets and costumes of merry old England are first-rate thanks to scenic designer Ian Peggs and costume designer Renee VanNiel, and Cody Soper (lighting design) and Lanelle Chavez and Brusasco (sound design) enhance the narrative with some great special effects. Working together, these elements make Scrooge’s former partner (an always excellent Mike Fiore) and Scrooge’s visiting Christmas ghosts (played with conviction by Carley Herlihy, Meggie Siegrist, and Samuel Quinzon)—and their revelations—truly memorable.
The incomparable Billy Breed is Scrooge. No other actor does old Ebenezer better. His fellow players match his intensity and commitment to this holiday classic, with Brett Mollard as Bob Cratchit and Kelly Brown, Sydni Ramierez, and Bianca Jeanette in several roles keeping the show rolling merrily (and sometimes hauntingly) along. The children’s parts are all double-cast, with Mello and Cosette Machamer as Tiny Tim uttering the iconic (and eagerly awaited) “God bless us every one!” and Cadence Clift, Frida Vega, Braylin Barton, and Russell Hohman taking turns bringing gayety to the Cratchit family Christmas.
While Dickens’ classic is reason enough to take the whole family to Oceano, there’s always more entertainment in store during an evening at the Melodrama. Act two’s new fairytale operetta gives the Melodrama troupe of players something to sink their teeth into (as well as some cute animal puppets designed by Jamie Douglas to play with). It’s a tour de force written by former Melodrama musical director Jordan Richardson, with most if not all of the lines sung in faux operetta fashion.
Richardson, director Johnny Keating and current musical director Camille Rolla have created an entirely new take on the title character (a refreshing Carley Herlihy) and her forest friends—throwing Little Red Riding Hood and Little Boy Blue into the mix as Goldilocks whimsically decides to redecorate everything within reach.
The evening’s third-act nightcap is a fizzy and sparkling vaudeville review directed and choreographed by Eric Hoit with musical direction by Rolla. In addition to the delicious pastiche of Christmas classics—”Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” etc.—this year we are treated to a visit from a confident tap-dancing Barbie and her eternally-beach-bound Ken. The Holiday Extravaganza is three for three this year, offering adults and children a delightful way to celebrate the season.
And yes, Amelia, thanks to you and the Melodrama family, this year our part of the world is “filld with joy.” Tickets to the Holiday Extravaganza—and 2024 Melodrama season passes, too—should be on everyone’s holiday wish list this year.