AUBURN — Five talented actors in Community Little Theatre’s “Greetings!” mix comedy, drama and a thought-proving theme as they deal with some mind-boggling holiday stress.
Although it takes place on Christmas Eve, this is not a candy-canes and Kris Kringle version of the holidays. The plot presents some fresh twists that challenge the audience to look at conventional beliefs, or lack thereof, with open minds.
Jason Pelletier and Roger Philippon turn in exceptional performances.
Philippon is the crotchety father of a 30-year-old man with a verbal ability limited pretty much to “Wow” or “Oh, boy.” When Mickey unexpectedly voices a loud and clear “Greetings,” the Gorski family is faced with new expectations and fears.
Philippon has been a CLT favorite in numerous comic and dramatic productions. Both talents get a commendable workout in this show.
Pelletier’s portrayal of Mickey and his child-like excitability is exceptional in its constant physical motion coupled with his limited level of interaction with his loving family. The range of his role takes on a totally new dimension as the story develops.
He has been seen in numerous productions in the Twin Cities including roles in CLT’s “Cinderella” and in Out-Of-The-Box Theatre’s “Hamlet,” both in 2011.
Phil Gorski (Phillipon) and his wife, Emily, (played by Karen Lane) are faithful Catholics looking forward to a traditional family Christmas. Andy, who is Mickey’s older brother, is flying home to introduce his bride-to-be to Mom and Dad. The visit spins out of control when Randi announces that she is Jewish, and moreover, she says she’s an atheist.
Ashley Thibodeau makes her debut on the CLT stage as Randi, a level-headed young woman who staunchly defends her disavowal of God. She has been seen in UU Theatre productions in Auburn, and audiences will be looking forward to more appearances by her at CLT.
Eric Cyr, whose first CLT role was in “Beau Jest” last March, adds deserved kudos to his well-received venture into theatre at that time. His portrayal of Andy is confident, and the role calls for a considerable range of acting as he tries to keep his father’s temper in check.
Lane gives a warm and understanding interpretation of Emily, who has become accustomed to Phil’s frequent outbursts. She had another role as Philippon’s wife when she appeared a few years ago in CLT’s production of “Sylvia” as the wife whose husband’s affections are stolen by a dog.
All turns out well as the Gorskis and Randi find accommodation for their differences, thanks to Mickey’s remarkable intervention.
Eileen Messina directed this production with sensitivity for its characters and message. She notes that “Greetings!” is a family play, but she said audiences should be aware that it contains some strong language and adult situations. Messina is well known for her work in theatre throughout Central Maine, including acting, choreography and directing.
This production also benefits greatly from the fine work by backstage crew members on the living room set and a handsome Christmas tree.
CLT first produced “Greetings!“ in its 1995-96 season, and the director of that show was Messina’s mother, Mary Glen Rosenberg. The play was written by Tom Dudzick and it debuted off-Broadway in 1990.
Audiences for “Greetings!” also have a special treat when they find carolers singing for them as they enter the theater.
Performances of “Greetings!” are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11, 12,and 13, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14.
For tickets, call the box office at 783-0958 or go online to www.laclt.com.
Community Little Theatre shows are at the Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn.