Note to readers: The following review is a personal, independent and unbiased view and is not influenced or motivated by personal relationships with any party involved with the production.
Being a theatre enthusiast who tries to not miss any English plays in Colombo, I’ve come to realize that with lesser expectations comes better enjoyment. So as an old boy, I walked into the Lionel Wendt to watch my Alma Mater perform the much publicized ‘A Christmas Wish’ with optimism, but not much expectation. The play was produced by Silent Hands Productions with a cast comprising present and past students of the school along with a few ladies. If I was asked to describe my personal opinion as a member of the audience in one sentence, I’d say, “Not too bad, sadly pretty amateur”.
As someone who has directed kids in the past, I know how tough it can be to get them to perform at a level you are satisfied with. In that respect I suppose we could cut the directors some slack towards certain aspects of the play’s amateur standard. However, there were also quite a few enjoyable moments.
There are two critical ingredients that make a musical play successful. Singing and choreography. In terms of the singing, I thought the chorus sounded pretty good. Natalie and Mike’s singing stood out from the rest.
The choreography was disappointing. The dances were way too simple and lacked creativity. I wasn’t too impressed with the use of the stage either. To take an example, I would have expected to see a creatively choreographed dance sequence that shows the production process at Santa’s workshop, instead of actors simply singing around tables in two corners of the stage.
The overall acting was good, but not great. Some could not be understood. Danu played a pretty good Santa, even with his tight pants. The reindeers were pleasant to watch. I especially like the ones which were performed by Amaya Wijesinghe & Billam Poulier.
Although some of the acting was passable, I was disappointed with the overall characterization of the ensemble. The Snow Flakes had some weird and inconsistent moves, while the Elves had no characterization at all.
The scenes with Santa’s evil sister the ‘Snow Queen’ reminded me a little of the scenes with the wicked witch of the west in ‘The Wiz’. The portrayal of this role by Neidra William’s was decent. I felt that the depiction of magic in her scenes could have been cleverly complimented with sound effects.
That being said, sound management was disastrous with some pretty obvious glitches. Microphones switched on and off at wrong times, along with a few distracting noises that popped up in intervals.
The play had some pretty elaborate backdrops which were complimented by good lighting effects. They succeeded in this aspect. However, I felt that scene transitions could have been done more intelligently, as the play had way too many blackouts.
I was always under the impression that the North Pole was a very cold place. Natalie visited the North Pole in a short dress. The dress looked good on her, but she certainly did not look cold. Neither did anyone else for that matter.
In terms of the script, it was alright for a ‘kids cum family’ musical, but I would have personally preferred a bit more humor. There were times when the audience was in giggles, though in certain moments, I wasn’t too sure if they were laughing with or at some of the actors.
On a more positive note, I am happy that the kids at St. Peter’s got an opportunity to get on stage. Theatre exposure always comes with a bundle of benefits. This I know, as I started in a very similar production, under the same theatre company and school.
I wish the cast and crew of this production the very best for all their future theatre endeavors.Tweets by @wasaamismail