Several local performing arts groups are providing nontraditional holiday productions this year. Last week, the District's Recreation Department presented "Santa's Spaceflight," a fantasy directed by LaVerne Reed, who for the past five years has given us St. Nick in some faraway and exotic places. This weekend, Trinity Children's Theatre continues its production of "Alice in Wonderland," while the Kennedy Center's Programs for Children and Youth presents "Season to Be," a unique look at the 12 days of Christmas.
"Season to Be" is a refreshing community Christmas production. It is an improvisational look at the holidays by 20 local youngsters whose reminiscences of Christmases past are the basic for sometimes humorous, sometimes serious observations about the true meaning of Christmas. This production marks the first time the center has gathered together a company comprised entirely of young people from this area.
The show centers around the words and ideas of the 11-to-15-year-old cast members. The material is all original, all from the heart.
In the segment, "Stories They Didn't Tell You," a spotlight beams on solitary figures whose short monologues reveal some not-too-happy holiday thoughts. Some, such as "The Barbie Doll That Meant So Much" and "Can't Go to the Dance," are too lightweight when compared with more substantive material, such as John Jasperse's "To Grandmother's House," in which he admits resenting "wasting" Christmas Day visiting his grandmother. As it turns out, it was his grandmother's last Christmas -- one he now treasures.
The funniest segment of "Season To Be" involves cast members coming together to form the shapes of inanimate objects and thus to look at the season from some interesting perspectives: that of a Christmas tree whose bulbs are being pulled by some "little brat," a bowl of eggnog that is emptied and filled by some wild party guests and a pinata whose biggest fear is getting swung at by the "fat girl with acne."
Younger children probably will be thrilled at just the sight of Trinity Theatre's "Alice In Wonderland." The set is in brilliant colors, and a revolving disco globe floats colored lights around the auditorium. The costumes are beautiful, with enough sequins and beads to choke Liberace.
The cast, ages 6 to 14, is nothing short of adorable, particularly Amy Monahan, 9, who gives a splendid performances as the villain Knave, and emily Pollock, 6, who has a squeaky voice like Alvin of The Chipmunks. She is a perfect door-mouse.
However, all this doesn't seem to be enough to keep most young viewers interested for two hours. After the first hour, children could be heard whispering on almost every row, "Is it over yet? Is it over yet?"
"Season to Be," at the Kennedy Center, is free, but reservations can be made by calling Mary Johnson at 254-3696. For more information on Trinity Children's Theatre's "Alice In Wonderland," call 965-4685. Both continue through Dec. 28.