|Ashley Robinson, Mark Hartman, Jacque Carnahan and John Cullum. Photo: Carol Rosegg|
By Lauren Yarger
Gather round for good cheer, Christmas songs and the reading of A Child's Christmas in Wales Off-Broadway at Irish Repertory Theatre.
Chairs are gathered in front of the fireplace in a room decked out for the holiday. Four trees behind stacks of colorful packages glow with warmth as Dylan Thomas's poem, adapted and directed by Charlotte Moore, comes to life.
Jacque Carnahan, Katie Fabel, Kenneth Quinney Francoeur and Ashley Robinson, who often portrays the young Thomas) join Broadway legend John Cullum (the grandfather), who holds an oversized book of "A Child's Christmas in Wales," which serves as a reference for the evening's memories.
The prose, with its stories of odd relatives visiting for the holiday, descriptive language of snow falling and childhood fun and remembrances, is interlaced with Christmas songs both moving and filled with good cheer. A couple of songs are offered with Welsh lyrics and director Moore pens music and lyrics for "Open Your Eyes" and "Ring Out the Bells."
A highlight in the 20-plus song repertoire is Cullum's solo of "All Through the Night." What a Christmas gift, indeed, to have a chance to hear the star of Shenandoah and On a Clear Day among so many others, sing a bunch of songs (even if he is conscious of being part of an ensemble and doesn't let his fine baritone blow us out of the seats of the intimate DR2 Theatre where Irish Rep is performing during renovations at their home theater on West 22nd Street.)
Musical Director Mark Hartman plays the piano on stage, almost as if he is a family member urged to provide accompaniment so relatives can join together for carols. The 75-minute, no-intermission presentation has such a warm, nostalgic feel, that you'll wish Christmas didn't come just once a year. (In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I bought myself a Christmas present and got a ticket to go see it again).
A Child's Christmas in Wales plays through Jan. 3 at D2 Theatre, 103 East 15th Street in Union Square. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 3 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Check holiday weeks for changes. Tickets are $71: http://www.irishrep.org/childschristmas2015.html