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Clara (played by Kimberly Jones Clark) from “The Nutcracker” is all grown up and having romantic issues with her prince in Richmond Triangle Players’ holiday production, “Christmas on the Rocks,” with Jay O. Millman as the bartender (photo by John MacLellan).
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The grown-up Ralphie (David Clark) from “A Christmas Story,” who now wears an eye patch, is ready to pours out his troubles to a bartender (Jay O. Millman) in Richmond Triangle Players’ “Christmas on the Rocks” (photo by John MacLellan).
A fun way to kick off the holidays, tonight is the opening night of Richmond Triangle Players’ Christmas on the Rocks. The play is a parody in which beloved Christmas special characters visit a bar on Christmas Eve and share their stories of what happened after the holidays ended and they grew up.
In a preview show last night, the theater at 1300 Altamont Ave. was nearly full. From start to finish, there was an endless barrage of laughter as characters such as Ralphie from A Christmas Story, Cindy Lou Who from How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Clara from The Nutcracker and even Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol, shared their somewhat unexpected and always hilarious stories of what happened to them as they grew older.
This RTP play also serves as a reunion for main cast members David Clark and Kimberly Jones Clark. The husband-and-wife theater duo haven't acted together in 25 years. Taking turns as active participants in the theater scene, one would stay home with the children as the other would be appearing on stage. David has previously performed in The Hounds of the Baskervilles at Hanover Tavern and The Liar and True West at Henley Street Theatre (now Quill Theatre). Kimberly has also performed in RTP’s All’s Well That Ends with Monique, Oblivion at TheatreLab, and 'Night Mother at Firehouse Theatre. In regards to their stage reunion, the playbill reads: “Normally [David] would thank Kim for her support and understanding during the rehearsal and performance process, but since she has been with him the entire time, he only hopes there wasn’t a reason that they had avoided being in a play together these past 25 years. I mean, who the hell is feeding the kids?”
David and Kimberly also pull quadruple duty as they each play four different beloved holiday classic characters, joined by Jay O. Millman, who plays the bartender who keeps an open ear (and sometimes mouth) as his patrons tell him their woes. David even provides impressions of the well-known Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer characters Donner and Charlie-in-the-Box as he portrays Hermey the elf. He notes that he had vocal coaching for the character of Tiny Tim, but he says that he mostly just had the voices of the other characters already ingrained in his mind. “I just knew the Christmas shows so well, because I’ve been watching them forever,” David says. He didn’t even re-watch the specials beforehand, but he says that after performing in this play, he wants to watch them and he believes the audience will want to as well.
Directed by Dexter Ramey, the play premiered at TheatreWorks in Hartford, Connecticut. Though conceived by Rob Ruggiero, there are seven playwrights: John Cariani, Jeffrey Hatcher, Jacques Lamarre, Matthew Lombardo, Theresa Rebeck, Edwin Sanchez and Jonathan Tolins. Ramey says the performances at RTP are part of a regional premiere of the play, and he notes that this marks a switch in tone for some of the playwrights who have traditionally written more dramatic and serious story lines.
Ramey says he's pleased with how well the play was received during the preview night. “When I read the script the first time, I said, ‘This is interesting — who thought about the kids growing up?’ ” He says that there is an underlying message in the stories of the characters though. “People can move forward in life, things change, but we can still be happy about it.”
There are some suggestive adult themes in the play (go figure — the characters are hanging out in a bar) so you may want to leave the little ones at home for this one, but after the conclusion of last night’s preview performance, this reporter’s mouth definitely hurt from smiling.
Christmas on the Rocks runs through Dec. 19. Tickets are $28 to $30. 346-8113 or rtriangle.org.