Cassidy Carrao, Hannah Knous, and Megan Paypalia make sure they have their lines down pat during a final dress rehearsal on Dec. 3. The play, “Oh Holy Night… What a Night!” was performed Thursday, Dec. 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Founders Auditorium. The play was written, directed, and produced by Stephen Ferrand. He also appeared as one of the three wise men.
Who would have known that the three wise men fought off ninjas during their quest to find baby Jesus?
Most have not heard that one of the wise men regretted giving Jesus frankincense, because one of his cohorts brought the baby gold. How could his perfume measure up to riches?
These tongue-in-cheek questions were explored in a performance dedicated to the Christmas story and carols, which opened in Founders Auditorium last week.
An audience of about 20 people were treated to a production, independent of the University of La Verne music and theater departments, of “Oh Holy Night… What a Night!” by Stephen Ferrand last Thursday.
The show ran Dec. 4-7.
Although the performance was humorous and lighthearted, the production lacked professionalism—this is certainly not a show with a big enough budget to ensure spot-on performances.
Most of the time, the official departmental performances at La Verne have an air of quality. One could imagine these productions to be in a professional show in downtown Los Angeles.
However, this show looked really haphazard. The show was put on by students, led by Patrick Towles, who banded together to produce the play.
Sets looked as though they had been put together at the last minute, and costumes were normal street-clothes. Actors were barely wearing any stage makeup.
But the cast put their all into the entire show, and the audience could tell that they had really put much effort into the telling of the story of Jesus.
The best parts of the show were the songs sung throughout the storytelling. Five women would come center stage and sing a cappella.
Carols like “Away in a Manger,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “We Three Kings” and “Oh Holy Night” were great additions to the show.
Most of the show was played for laughs, but these moments offered quiet reflection on the Christmas holiday season.
There were a lot of pratfalls and physical humor in this production—the three main male leads acted as narrators and then as the three wise men.
It was their sliding around stage and current jokes that kept the show moving. Several members of the audience seemed to really enjoy these characters, even though their acting felt hammy most of the time.
Although the three wise men acted as a trio reminiscent of the Three Stooges, sometimes their humor ran a little thin because the jokes were repeated over and over again.
Some of the characters felt unnecessary—King Harrod was a Sean Connery knock-off who did not add anything to the story, and the shepherd’s dialogue in Bethlehem did not seem to match the rest of the actors.
Another mistake of this show was having a 15-minute intermission. The show was brief, and did not need time to get the audience disinterested. The production would have been better served to just go right through into the second act.
The show was written by Ferrand, who was a high school friend of actor Towles (one of the wise men.)
The production was created as a light-hearted send-up of the Christmas story, and the play achieved its desired effect of good old-fashioned holiday fun.
Overall, the students put a lot of work into this show, but they should have devoted more time and effort into the production aspect.
More publicity should be created so that community members want to attend.
The actors who participated in this production are very talented and should be given more credit for the hard work they put in.
With “Oh Holy Night,” the cast and crew deserve accolades for doing so much with so little.
Erin Konrad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.