Twist of the Magi - a gift worth giving

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Twisted Sisters and actor James Milton
in one of his roles  

Twist of the Magi by Debra Rich Gettleman
Phoenix Theatre in Firdale Village

Through December 23

Theatre review by Luanne Brown

Look no further than your own backyard for that special Christmas date with a loved one or with the whole family. An evening out at a local restaurant, followed by tickets to this entertaining take on a Christmas classic, is the perfect way to celebrate the season.

The story is pretty much what the title says it is: a twist on O. Henry’s (a.k.a. William Sydney Porter) tale, “The Gift of the Magi”. In this story, the setting is KTPT, a radio station. The time is 1946.

The setting is a radio station in 1946
“Twist of the Magi” gives you two stories in one: the tale of what happens to a young married couple in search of the perfect holiday gifts for each other and a behind-the-scenes look at the actors who put on this radio play. 

The script for the play itself is nicely written by former Phoenix managing director, Debra Rich-Gettleman, who has a flair for combining farce and romance. 

Shileah Corey makes her directing debut and brings out the best in the story and the cast, most of whom have more than one role. 

Adding a musical element, especially on such a small stage, can be tricky, but it’s nicely handled by musical director, Michael Corey. The Twisted Sisters, a trio of talented singers are on-stage standouts. Their difficult harmonies are admirably executed, and their performances are done with pizzazz. Each one of them is a shining star in their own way. Kudos to Darian Conn, Mia Perritt, and Joyél Richardson for jobs well done.

Veteran actor Larry Albert is Rex Radison, the show’s host. His velvet-toned voice is perfect for the job and his stage-presence adds distinction to this role. Plus, there’s a heart-warming twist to his character once the microphone is turned off. 

The young couple is charmingly played by James Lynch and Kylara Pankow. Seattle-area comedian, James Milton is suitably unctuous, quirky, and charming as his multiple roles require and who wouldn’t want his red loafers.

Susan Connors, who plays Denise and Mrs. Mandelbread (and did the costume design, stage design, and stage dressing as well) is nothing short of fantastic. The curls in her era-appropriate hairdo amaze as does her able accents and on-stage appeal.

Melanie Calderwood plays Betsy,
the sound technician
Melanie Calderwood always delights and never more so than as Betsey, the sound technician whose incompetence at her job is laugh-out-loud funny. 

Diane Jamison as Stella/Mrs. Matisse has a small role, but one that she executes with flair as the flask-hitting actress who arrives late on the scene.

The Stage Manager is played by Susannah Faherty, whose down-to-earth manner is perfect as the one person who holds everything together on-stage and behind the scenes. Kelsey Boulton brings a satisfying contrast to her dual roles as a hairdresser with a heart and the on-stage wife of a lothario.

Tickets are a bargain at $25 and the play runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm through Sunday, December 23rd. Wine, tea, and cookies are served at affordable prices and can be consumed in the theater. Sell-outs are likely so order your tickets today.



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