Review | A Christmas Carole Petersen: a Minnesota Nice holiday

Theater Latté Da, through Dec 30

Tod Petersen in A CHRISTMAS CAROLE PETERSEN. Photo by Allen Weeks.

There’s an emotionally raw quality to A Christmas Carole Petersen (Theater Latté Da, through Dec 30) that imparts to the material real substance, true Christmas spirit. Without this the play might could be glib, pat, and predictable.

For example: Tod Petersen (Tod Petersen)’s beautiful description of the bed his lover/partner and their two cats made in their Chicago apartment. The three of them actually made an outline of Petersen’s bed space as they slept. “I was home,” Petersen says quietly. Lovely, and great credit here goes to the playwrights, Petersen and Peter Rothstein (who also directs, with restrained precision).

Another thing Petersen does extremely well: his mother Carole. Without being campy or condescending, Petersen evokes Mom, a clingy busybody, but loving and sweet. (His/her interpretation of fifty years of family Christmas letters is priceless.) And Peterson does Carole better than an accomplished actor would – and Latté Da has distinguished history of engaging first rate talent.

Indeed, Petersen performs A Christmas Carole Petersen with pluck, charisma and great charm. Plus he can – almost – sing. (Let’s put it this way: I can sing as well.) Luckily, Petersen surrounds himself with performers who really can sing: Jody Briskey; Ryan Lee (who does an exquisite rendition of Joni Mitchell’s achingly beautiful Christmas song, “River;” and Dominique Wooten (a football player with a lovely tenor voice). These outstanding artists are ably assisted by Denise Prosek on piano.

A Christmas Carole Petersen may not have the Guthrie (A Christmas Carol)’s design prowess, or Penumbra (Black Nativity)’s pure power, or the Jungle (Christmas At Pemberley)’s comic sensibility, but the show is sweet, understated, and well worthwhile.

‘Tis the season.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. His Anna May Wong bioplay, How The Ghost Of You Clings, will be presented by the Playwrights Center as part of the 2018 Ruth Easton Festival. Please visit John’s informational website.

 

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