The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title The Gift of the Magi
Organization FreeFall Stage
Date(s) of show December 5-21, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

O. Henry’s story of gift giving focuses on a newly married couple in New York City in 1905. Jim Young and his new wife Della live in a tenement and seem to have barely enough income for food. With Christmas approaching, each of the newlyweds wants desperately to give his/her spouse a gift that will embody the couple’s passionate love.

O. Henry is known for stories with surprise, ironic endings. To respect those who may not know this story, I won’t say anything about the gifts. FreeFall writers Tana Colburn and Deanne Eldridge, in adapting the piece for stage, have superimposed the Scrooge story on O. Henry’s plot with a domineering grandfather in the Scrooge part and an impoverished neighbor flower seller, the charming Charlotte Stokhaug, in the Tiny Tim role.

The newlyweds are competently performed by FreeFall newcomers Kelsey Lightfoot and Dave Sterkin. Another new FreeFall performer, Ron Dailey, forcefully fills the Scrooge role as the nasty grandfather who fires Jim from his department store job because he has dared to fall in love with a beautiful clerk. Trish Schmeltz is a strong presence as a pivotal milliner.

For me the actor who steals the show is FreeFall veteran Stephen Watson, acting in his 10th FreeFall production. A superb character actor, Watson plays two parts: the minister who marries the couple and tries to talk the grandfather into showing some compassion, and the shopkeeper who plays a key role in the climactic act of the story. Watson makes each of these parts into a small masterpiece, each with his own distinctive character and accent.

What could be a more suitable break from holiday planning and shopping than a quick, uplifting bit of great local theatre? For young or not-so-young, FreeFall Stage has just the pickup your spirit needs.

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