Not another takeoff on Dicken’s “Christmas Carol?!” Yes, Virginia, but this one is different and alive! Music comes to the rescue with “All We Have is Now” to wake us up to our present possibilities (or is it our possible present?). Lucky Penny grabs us by the wine glass and rocks into the present world where we are so hesitant about living again after COVID.
The setup is a marketing meeting for a winery, which is looking at new wine names for the company. Fighting to stay focused, the people finally give up and go home to Christmas Eve. We find ourselves in the Patchett living room decorated for Christmas while Christmas carols are sung with an eye to making cheer. Times are tense with the issues at hand, however.
We move back to the winery while the Boss, Alexander Yuge (pronounced “huge,” played by Tim Setzer), is trying to drown down the year, alone. After a quick visitation by the ex-wife, Vivian (played by Karen Pinomaki), we see the plot thicken with hints that Yuge is not all bad, as he laments the “Schlock” of his business with a bright dance style.
The first act is slow, with the new wine name, “Llama For Your Mama.” Act 2 takes up the slack as the spirits arrive to cheer us on. Ghost of Christmas Past (played by Dennis O’Brien) comes in like a team of reindeer with amazing music of the ‘90’s. Sure, the should’a, could’a, would’a come through the door too, but the music takes over and keeps us entranced.
Ghost of Christmas Present (played by Daniela Innocenti Beem) takes over and gets Yuge to focus on the here and now, which is not difficult with the exciting musical scene by Beem. Eventually, Ghost of Christmas Future (played by Cecilia Brenner) brings the play to a head with a very hip costume and routine to show that “Death Comes for Us All,” but we have time to make the best of the time we have.
For its size, the venue is quite comfortable with a center stage on the floor. The lights and music are done brilliantly (pun intended!) by Jeff Bristow in the booth. The ghosts appear immediately when lightning strikes with all effects. O’Brien’s costume is stunning for the ‘90’s past. Beem’s costume for her ghostly appearance nuances the glass out of Yuge’s hands by way of waking him (and us) up to the present. Brenner’s ghost slowly greets Yuge with cold facts. The doubling up of Patchett family members to play the ghosts was delightful; one did not anticipate the double meanings behind the choices.
Matt Davis played the perfect middle-level manager and head of the Patchett household. Davis was neutral to all the energy flowing around him while the winery (figuratively) burned.
Writer and director Barry Martin create a happy twist on the old storyline of redemption. Rob Broadhurst’s music and lyrics create a memorable show for all of us.
Lucky Penny Productions cast and crew and house are fully vaccinated for COVID-19; masks are required for all audience; reservations are for 100% of house.
“A Napa Valley Christmas Carol” continues at Lucky Penny Productions at 1758 Industrial Way, Ste 208, Napa, CA through December 19, 2021.
For further information and reservations: http://luckypennynapa.com/
Rating: *** 1/2
“A Napa Valley Christmas Carol,” by Barry Martin, Music and Lyrics by Rob Broadhurst, produced by Lucky Penny Productions. Director: Barry Martin, Set Designer: Brian Watson, Light Designer: April George, Sound Design: Rob Broadhust & Barry Martin, Costume Designer: Barbara McFadde4n, Stage Manager: Jeff Bristow. Cast: Kirstin Pieschke as Mary Patchett, Dakota Dwyer as Frankie Patchett, Tim Setzer as Alexander Yuge, Dennis O’Brien as Buddy Wise/Ghost of Christmas Past, Daniela Innocenti Beem as Sally Angell/Ghost of Christmas Present, Matt David as Joe Patchett, Cecillia Brenner as Goldie Patchett/Ghost of Christmas Future, Karen Pinomaki as Vivian Mandible-Yuge.