A Christmas Memory - Truman Capote's Holiday Gift

 

Based on a short story by Truman Capote, A CHRISTMAS MEMORY memorializes Capote’s five years in rural Alabama living with his mother’s well-intentioned but poor relatives. Capote, born Truman Streckfus Persons and nicknamed Buddy, is only four when his parents divorce and go their separate ways. Neither feels up to parenting a pre-schooler, and Buddy finds himself spending the next few formative years with his mother’s older sisters and brother. Miraculously, he forges a bond with his eccentric maiden aunt which stands the test of time as he revisits fond memories in adulthood. He also forms a friendship with author Elle Harper Lee, his next-door neighbor, which follows him into adulthood as both write their memorable novels.

 

Diane Kelber, Patrick Geringer - Photo by Gina Long

 

Set during the depression years, A CHRISTMAS MEMORY is perfect fare for the holiday season, a poignant and melodic account of how love can overcome almost any obstacle and create memories which last a lifetime. As Aunt Sook (Diane Kelber) points out to young Buddy (Patrick Geringer), “Heaven is the ordinary things we never see.” The two celebrate Christmas while festooning their tree with paper, tinfoil, and common household bits and pieces, the only decorations they can afford; and yet, Buddy remembers this as the finest tree he ever had in his entire life. Biographically, Buddy eventually returned to his mother after she married Cuban entrepreneur Joseph Capote, who adopted him - and thus Truman Capote was finally “born.” But that is another story and not part of these memories.

 

 

Theresa Ford, Jeff Scot Carey - Photo by Gina Long

 

The entire cast is strong - but special kudos must fall to Patrick Geringer, who plays young Buddy, in his first professional role. This is an 11-year-old youngster who can learn lines with the best of them (especially striking in that Buddy is on stage for most of the play), sing, dance, and mug when called for. Of course, the other cast members are talented, experienced, and no slouches in the same departments. And let’s not forget Sheldon, the rescue mutt who adds just the right touch of “down home.” The staging is accomplished with sliding panels, a clever solution to the limitations of the stage. The entire production crew is to be commended for their creativity.

 

 

Christopher Showerman, Jean Kauffman - Photo by Gina Long

 

Capote’s tale was adapted by Duane Poole (book), Larry Grossman (music), and Carol Hall (lyricist). A CHRISTMAS MEMORY is helmed and choreographed by the talented Alison Eliel Kalmus, with the able assistance of music director Emily Cohn. Musical selections are sometimes sweet, sometimes rousing, and sometimes tender. However, A CHRISTMAS MEMORY has not been widely presented - and so the tunes will be unfamiliar to most of the audience.

 

 

Christopher Showerman, Diane Kelber, Patrick Geringer - Photo by Gina Long

 

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY runs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with 2:30 p.m. performances on Saturdays and Sundays until December 27, 2015 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024. The musical is also presented at 8 p.m. on Tuesday (12/22/15), Wednesday (12/23/15), and Thursday (12/17/15) with a matinee performance on Thursday 12/10/15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $34.50 (seniors - $32, under 21 - $25). For reservations, call 626-355-4318 or go online at www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

 

 

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