Friday, December 2, 2016

reviews - A VERY HAIRY JAVELINA HOLIDAY - Childsplay

Chelsea Soto, Vinny Chavez, Katie McFadzen, Rudy Ramirez, Jon Gentry, and Rhetta Mykeal
Photo by Tim Trumbule

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through December 24th.

"....For the three javelinas...the anticipation of a perfect family Christmas is reaching breaking point. In the lively new Childsplay musical, A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday, based on the popular Susan Lowell book, A Very Hairy Christmas, it’s Christmas Eve and the excitement can hardly be contained....When Cousin Angelina arrives, it’s obvious that she has her own ideas on what shape the perfect family Christmas should take. She favors color lights on the tree, not the white ones. The decorations should sparkle a lot more, not the dusty, brown ones favored by the family desert dwellers. Plus, when Josefina is about to take to the stage for her Christmas Eve solo at the cantina, Cousin Angelina thinks the performance should be grander; she forces the whole family to participate in a full length version of The Nutcracker, one that has to be completed within five minutes. “She’s gonna change our Christmas!” Juan and José declare....Lingering outside the desert house, hiding behind that prickly cactus, is a wily Coyote (Katie McFadzen) looking for something other than turkey for the Christmas dinner table....Told entirely in song, with music by Todd Hulet and lyrics by Jenny Millinger who also adapted the story, A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday invites us to start the holiday season off with music, festive color, excitement, some falling snow, and even a touch of Tchaikovsky, all the required sights and sounds that make Christmas come alive in and around the home, and it’s all as delicious as any of Juan’s cookies....the songs are delightfully melodious.....When Cousin Angelina sings of making dreams come true, it’s not just her voice, you see it in her face. It’s Mykeal’s delivery that makes you believe that, as with the season itself, those Christmas dreams really will come true.  ...Perhaps it’s Holly Windingstad’s festive set design, or D.Daniel Hollingshead’s colorful costumes, or maybe Paul Black’s atmospheric lighting that makes Christmas Eve in both the javelina’s home and outside among the cacti seem that extra bit magical, or maybe it’s the combination of all the elements of Childsplay professional talents under Dwayne Hartford’s direction coming so skillfully together to make the seasonal setting work so well, but whatever it is, somehow A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday enchants even more than last year’s The Three Javelinas." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Two seasons ago Childsplay presented a new musical, The Three Javelinas, based on two children's books by Tucson author Susan Lowell. They now present a sequel to that show, the holiday themed A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday based on Lowell's "A Very Hairy Christmas." It's a fun, upbeat musical with a talented cast that focuses on the importance of family and family traditions at the holidays.
The plot follows the three little javelina siblings, Josefina, Juan and José, and their cricket friend Caruso who are getting their house ready for the holidays. When their cousin Angelina makes a surprise visit it threatens to upset everything, as she is determined to interject herself into their holiday traditions....this new piece jumps right into the story. That might be confusing to audience members who aren't familiar with the three siblings, but the score by Todd Hulet and Jenny Millinger is more than capable of moving the plot along and giving us information on the characters, which is very impressive considering it is a mostly through song score with very little dialogue. While there probably won't be any tunes you find yourself humming on the way home there are definitely a few that resonate. ...Chelsea Soto, Rudy Ramirez and Vinny Chavez are Josefina, Juan and José and each makes their role unique. ...Jon Gentry and Katie McFadzen provide a sweet charm to their characters despite McFadzen's coyote's plans to make a Christmas feast of the little javelinas. Rhetta Mykeal is superb as cousin Angelina. Her lovely voice brings much passion to both her songs and her character's desire to fit in with this family....While it may not exactly be a holiday classic, A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday is a fun and upbeat wintertime diversion. The combination of the show's message of the importance of family with a talented cast and the mature score makes this a family friendly musical that children of all ages will enjoy. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...the high point of Childsplay’s “A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday” is a play-within-a-play, as ballet-dancing peccary Josefina puts on an abbreviated version of “The Nutcracker” that goes hilariously awry at the local cantina. Alas, the rest of this world-premiere musical for kids is pretty mundane overly ambitious through-composed score by Todd Hulet, who delivers soaring tunes that are journeyman generic..and promise far more drama than Jenny Millinger’s homey book and lyrics could possibly deliver. It’s a mismatch of style and substance....the production values and the acting are top-notch. But the show itself is pretty forgettable. " Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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