Stranded travelers arrive at a town’s hastily prepared shelter. That opening scene should tip you off: You are about to witness a feel-good play about overcoming adversity.
But Closed for the Holidays, written by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus and directed for Twin Beach Players by Terri McKinstry, is not quite so simple. Plus, it will leave you wishing for a miracle of your own this season.
The auditorium of the Boys & Girls Club in North Beach is adorned with Christmas lights as the set for the entire performance. Here a group of drama students – including their teacher, her mother and the bus driver – anxiously await the reopening of a closed road.
The well-cast actors bring you along for the journey, starting with the arrival of the weary bunch and ending with the miracles they witness on Christmas Eve. Your proximity to the stage and the standout performances make you feel like you’re stuck in the shelter right along with them. You may even begin to worry at the announcement that the heat in the shelter has gone out.
Prepare for twists along the way plus solid acting and singing. The cast nails their lines and timing. The show moves along at a perfect pace: quick; but not so fast you can’t keep up, despite the number of characters to remember.
Joining the stranded drama group are an elf from the North Pole who narrates our adventure; the “custodial engineer” of the community center that’s been turned into a shelter; a surgeon; an engaged couple on the way to their wedding; two suspicious characters in elf gear; plus a very amusing sheriff and young deputy duo who may have a career ahead of them in sitcom.
Comedic challenges such as a fear of a Christmas curse — don’t say the word! — along with the horrors of no cell service and a student addicted to shopping keep the tone light and fun. More serious trials such as issues of the heart, broken homes and thievery make the miracles hinted at early on all the more special.
The well-cast young actors all deliver. Be prepared to be impressed by this reviewer’s favorite holiday song when belted out by Hailey Croce in her role as Santa’s elf, Bjorn.
Proving how important community spirit is, the play closed on the perfect note. Twin Beach Players — and the audience — sang happy birthday to third-grade cast member Mary Evans and invited everyone to stay for cake.
Closed for the Holidays: Running close to two hours FSa 8pm; Su 3pm thru Dec. 15; Boys and Girls Club, 9021 Dayton Ave., North Beach; $15 w/discounts www.twinbeachplayers.org.