TR Robertson… The latest production at Vista and San Diego’s Biggest Little Live Theatre will leave you with a warm, feel good feeling perfect for this time of year. “The Rented Christmas”, by Norman C. Ahern, Jr. and Yvonne Ahern, will tug at your heart strings as bachelor John Dale tries to bring back the Christmas memories he experienced as a young boy by renting “Christmas will all the trimmings” including a wife and 5 children. Taken from a short story by J. Lillian Vandervere, Dale will slowly see his house transformed into a festive holiday scene and he will also be transformed emotionally as well.
The Broadway Vista production features a number of new performers to this theatres stage and a number of new performers to any theatre stage. The role of John Dale is performed by Broadway Vista co-owner and a veteran of numerous productions, Douglas Davis. Playing the owner of a rental shop, Anne Westin, tasked with the job of providing Dale with all he requires for his Christmas memories, is Vanessa Kramer, returning to the Broadway Vista stage. The role of Dale’s Irish maid, Martha, is Michele Earnest, making her Broadway Vista debut. Playing an employee of the orphanage who assists getting the children for Dale’s dream Christmas is the manager of Broadway Vista, Katie Silva. This is Katie’s first return to the stage in 6 years. Dale’s friend, Mr. Simmons, is played by Doug Olive, also a first time Broadway Vista performer. These four comprise the adult figures for the play and each fits their role perfectly and each looked like they were having a fun time on stage.
The five children who are selected to play Dale’s children for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning are made up of 4 children from the local orphanage and one young man who works for Anne, but is very familiar with the orphanage. Playing Anne’s employee and Dale’s oldest son, Jimmy, is 15 year old Michael Heniser. Michael said he has been acting since kindergarten and has some 40 productions under his belt. Playing Dale’s oldest daughter, Jean, is Cassidy Jessup. Cassidy is a Mission Vista High School student who is in her first professional show for Broadway Vista.
The younger children selected as Dale’s children for the holidays include Alexandra Hoffman as Cynthia, Kassidy King as Lettie and Yousef Hamdi as Willie. Alexandra is a 13 year old 8th grader at Guajome Park Academy, Kassidy a 13 year old 8th grader at Woodland Middle School and Yousef is a fourth grader. Alexandra and Kassidy have a number of productions to their credit. Alexandra has performed previously at Broadway Vista and Kassidy is making her Broadway Vista debut. Yousef is participating in his first major role on stage, but has taken part in Broadway Vista’s children’s productions and camps. Each of these young people showed great stage presence and you could also feel they were having a good time on stage.
“The Rented Christmas” portrayed a number of themes and questions. Can you buy happiness?, What does it take to make a Christmas? and What does Christmas really mean to you?, are some of the thoughts which cross your mind as you watch the play. This is a timely play for this season and one you will thoroughly enjoy.
The intermission also brought out the famous Opportunity Drawing where “lucky” raffle ticket holders can win some of the strangest and funny prizes a little money can buy. For tonight, lucky winners walked away with solar powered dancing pilgrims, solar powered dancing Santa’s, chocolate dipped peanut brittle and a holiday pickle ornament for your tree. Broadway Vista also provides coffee, tea, and water as well as cookies before the play and at intermission.
“The Rented Christmas” runs until December 17th at Broadway Vista located at 340 East Broadway. Tickets can be purchased at www.broadwayvista.com, or call 760-806-7905. Next up for Broadway Vista is “Tuesdays with Morrie” beginning on January 18th.