Santa's workshop is filled with joy now, but it wasn't easy. That "Race" took up the whole play.
the beginning of each Christmas season is marked by the arrival of
Thanksgiving. But in Tucson for the past 38 years, the Christmas
season is marked by the opening of Gaslight Theatre's Christmas show
a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving.
those decades the shows have ranged from sentimental to silly to
literary (a tribute adaptation of Charles Dickens' “A Christmas
Carol” used to be an annual Gaslight gift to the community) to more
ham on wry.
This year the doughty theater company is returning to its far-flung tale
of global Christmas set sometime during the 1930s, “Race to the
North Pole.” Here we find a pair of resourceful vaudevillians,
Fearless Frazier and Scat Sweeny, fresh out of money in the Big Apple
and squarely on the bad side of disenchanted gangsters Max Pommade
and his sidekick Knuckles.
the roles are double and triple cast, but at the performance I
attended Fearless was played by Jacob Brown in a bright red plaid
blazer, Scat was Jake Coffin in a slightly more subdued red plaid
blazer, while the mobster Max (Todd Thompson) was the sartorial
topper with a commanding blue pinstripe zoot suit accented with a
(David Orley) on the other hand, looked like he was going for the
Guinness Book of World Records mark for mis-matched apparel.
in as show business entertainers are the singing dancers Sandy (Janee
Page) and Dorothy (Erin Thompson), a pair of pretty and perky damsels
with some resources of their own.
team up with Fearless and Scat at the same time the flashy-costumed
human cannonball Wilhelm (Mike Yarema) and his lovely assistant Hilda
(Heather Stricker) find a mutual kinship in crime with Max and
Knuckles – all four of them bitterly hate Christmas.
you can see where this is going, can't you? Keeping all these
pinballs bouncing off their holiday bumpers as a kind of show biz
ring master is the brassy Broadway promoter Louise (Jacinda
Gaslight show is known for its imaginative set designs by Tom Benson.
This adventure takes us from mid-town New York to Morocco to Rio de
Janeiro to – finally -- the Big Christmas radio show broadcast
around the globe with Santa Clause at the North Pole.
most of the journey, the “race” is to hit all those port cities,
solve a lot of problems, do a show and still reach Santa at the North
Pole before he has to depart on Dec. 24 in his gift-packed sleigh –
as the four who hate Christmas slowly become hip to the true spirit
of this heart-warming holiday.
after-show olio, “Grandma's Country Christmas Jamboree,” opens
with “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” closes with “Leroy
the Redneck Reindeer,” includes the “Santa Claus Boogie” and
saves a little time for Santa's three “Hillbilly Elves” (the ones
with low elf-esteem).
also learn “What's red and green, hangs from the ceiling and goes
'ribbit...ribbit?' – Mistletoad!
to the North Pole” runs through Jan. 3, with performances at
various times Tuesdays through Sundays (seven days a week in
December) at the Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets are
$18.95 adults; $16.95 seniors, military and students; $8.95 children
details and reservations, 886-9428, www.thegaslighttheatre.com