On Sunday, we had the pleasure of going to see the Bay Street Players’ production of A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas in Eustis, FL. Traveling to downtown Eustis on a bright, clear sunny afternoon from just about anywhere might take a while, but you could go early and make a day of it with a visit to a local café for sweets and coffee (at Olivia’s across the street) or a whole delish-smelling meal of Mexican fare (Sol De Mexico) right next door, followed by a lovely breezy walk along the lake; all of which would make the drive really worthwhile. In addition, you’ll certainly set your holiday mood by watching this terrific play in the quaint Historic State Theatre on Bay Street.
Written by local Central Florida playwright Kris Vosler Bauske and directed by Brendon Rogers, A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas pulls at the heartstrings of every Christian kid-at-heart everywhere. A retelling of sorts of the classic Christmas story set in the fictional southern town of Christmas (which of course we all know is NOT fictional, but real and located just east of Orlando on the way to Titusville on highway 50), Redneck delights audiences with its stereotypic characters the audience can’t help but love and recognize right from the start.
There’s the good-ol-boy narrator, Bob, warmly played by Pat Ward, whose truck has broken down in a snowstorm, and who sets the countrified tone of the play from the opening scene with his effective southern drawl and sympathetic demeanor. Then there’s Darlene, Lou, and Barbie Jo, played by Lauren Morgan, Nicole Castro, and Elaine Yablonski, respectively, the flavorful quasi-first ladies of the town who run the local diner and give respite to Bob while he waits for his truck to be repaired on a snowy cold Christmas Eve and anybody else who stops by for any reason or no reason. And Mark, the young prodigal son, played by Austin Langford, with his nose in a book and smart-but-clueless affect who wouldn’t know a flirt from a piece of Barbie Jo’s burnt cherry pie, and whose name might as well be Joseph, just to help out any clueless souls in the audience who might not be up to speed by the middle of the first act. And those “boys”—the three not-as-wise-as-you-might-want-them-to-be fellas who manage to screw everything up and save the holiday all at the same time are played endearingly by Chris Stephens (Jimmy), Adam Curtis (Dave), and Daniel Roscoe (Bill). And finally, Mary Sue, played by Victoria Puglisi, the wandering, lost, pregnant, needy stranger who lands in town unexpectedly, but possibly on divine purpose, who turns everyone’s world around on its ends. Jimmy is just so dad-gum cute you can’t help but fall in love with his blundering character, even considering the possibly too-many references to his backfiring chili recipe. Together, these characters come to life and remind everyone of the reasons for the season—kindness, empathy, love, and family—in whatever forms they take—are the really important things in life.
Adding to the ambiance of this heartwarming play is the tidy, rustic set prepared by Tom Mangieri; the snuggly, enveloping lighting designed by Jon Whiteley; and the down-home costuming by Sara Gray.
You’ve got through December 7th to see this delightful show, so make your reservations now for tickets that go from $11 to $21. There are no bad seats in the small, cozy little house. At intermission, added bonuses are that if you wear an ugly Christmas sweater to the show, you might win a prize of show tickets for a future production; and, if you buy some 50/50 raffle tickets, you might actually win some decent $$ for your holiday shopping—the winner at our show won over $100! The raffle benefits the theatre AND the winner. A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas benefits everyone who is lucky enough to see it. More information about this play can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/340476442353/ and at the Bay Street Players website, http://www.baystreetplayers.org/.