Ideally, the good-natured play with music, Little Christmas Miracles would perform only at matinees before an audience mostly of eager children rather than seasoned theatergoers. Kids might better appreciate its sweet plot and simple presentation while taking in stride that grace before a meal is said, “Let’s pray for a miracle” is spoken, and sentimentality rules.
Created by Pat Denson and written by Ryan Paul James, Little Christmas Miracles is comprised of brief scenes lasting just over an hour excluding an intermission. Ms. Denson and Mr. James have crafted an engaging scenario that’s pointedly written about troubled families seeking solace at Christmastime. It’s seasonally resonant as reflected in the affective original score with contributions by Ms. Denson, David DeVaul, Nathan Demarco- Jacobson and Jamie Floyd. Denson also directed and her physical staging is of brisk efficiency while simultaneously attaining sensitive performances.
The widowed Ashley and her teenagers, Daisy and Gavin have been conflicted since the death of their husband and father two years ago. Last year, the kids couldn’t fathom celebrating without him and so nothing was done. This year, a compromise is reached. They’ll spend Christmas at a Gatlinburg, Tennessee, ski lodge where the father planned to take Bryan to the mountains to try to view a legendary white wolf, but there’s to be no celebrating. They’re accompanied by their widowed friend Destiny and her young daughter Haley who desperately wants a karaoke machine for Christmas.
The moribund sky lodge is on the verge of bankruptcy, it’s run by the heroic National Park Ranger Jake with assistance from the benevolent general storekeeper Maggie. The families arrive disappointed to learn that there’s no snow and none is predicted until January. However, during a holiday hoedown romantic and personal bonds are formed. Will it snow? Will we see the white wolf? Will Daisy get her karaoke machine? The appealing cast answers these questions.
Rachel McAlpine exudes stalwart maternalism as Ashley. Tisa Harriott is delightfully feisty as Destiny. Sara Gerding, Jackson Ark and Skyler Marie Harris as the teenagers exhibit verve and requisite angst. With his sunny countenance, animated vocal delivery and lithe physicality, Glauco Araujo offers a sterling characterization of Jake. The bubbly Lori Marcus plays Maggie with character actress-flair. Jordan Richards, and David Jake Rodriguez complete the personable ensemble. Music supervisor Sam Neagley has a role while playing guitar and Lou Garrette is on mandolin.
A backdrop of stylized snowy mountains is the chief component of Jason Iacovelli’s artfully basic scenic design. Lighting designer Maarten Cornelis’ efforts appropriately complement the actions and moods. Trevor Trotto’s vintage animation-style projection design includes a terrific white wolf.
Modest in scope, the heartfelt Little Christmas Miracles has its uplifting virtues.
Little Christmas Miracles (through January 3, 2022)
Holiday Shelter Productions
Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit http://www.actorstempletheatre.com
Running time: 75 minutes with one intermission