, Port Arthur, Texas


November 29, 2012

'Christmas without the Angel' offers humor, depth

PORT ARTHUR — If you want to witness a family more dysfunctional and humorous than your own while enjoying a holiday meal, then you might want to check out Act 1 Scene 1 Theatre Company’s production of “Christmas Without the Angel.”

The dinner show, which opens at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, offers humor and poignancy through the tale of a millionaire who has his mansion and life knocked askew when a social worker friend asks him to take in six young children for the holidays. Add to the mix this millionaire’s own family, and the result is a story about Christmas spirit and finding faith, director Craig Bertrand said.

“The spirit of giving goes beyond itself,” he said.

The story attracted Bertrand to the play because it was about much more than the holiday spirit, he said. It was about someone coming to find his faith in his own way.

“So many people forget there are people who have less than we do,” Bertrand said.

He found this play on a website and had never seen or heard of it before. The main character, millionaire Jonathan Bingsley played by Don Suarez, is by no means selfish but concerned about spending the holiday with his daughter, Bertrand said. But Bingsley is in for a roller coaster ride when the six foster children, his sister and her son show up at the same time.

Natashia Barker plays one of the foster children, the 12-year-old Samantha Carleton who moves into Bingsley’s mansion with her five siblings. Though her character is a bit younger than she is, Barker, 14, said she liked that about her character because it gave her room to play with how she shows her emotions. Barker is one of the seven children acting in the play.

“I like that I get to be somebody else from the time I take the stage to the time I take my bow,” she said.

Barker, who is home-schooled, has been involved with theater for six years. She said she enjoyed participating in the play because it was a meaningful show that conveyed a thoughtful message.

“I hope people get that people can change and see the light if people help them along,” she said.

But “Christmas Without the Angel” is not an entirely serious show, Bertrand said. There are plenty of funny scenes along the way, and the play would not leave the audience pulling tissues out of their pockets at the end, he said.

If anything, the play will at least take the audience out of its thoughts for a spell and maybe make them feel, Bertrand said. In that way, he said, theater is more real than any television show or movie projected onto a screen because it happens in real time, and real mistakes must be dealt with on the spot as the actors interact with the audience.

“To me, theater is magic,” Bertrand said. “It can take you to a completely different world.”

“Christmas Without the Angel,” written by Tambra Kay Petrie, starts Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 2 and Dec. 7 to Dec. 9. Friday and Saturday shows include a turkey and dressing dinner, and Sundays are afternoon matinees. The box office opens at 6 p.m. for dinner shows.

Matinee performances begin at 2:30 p.m. with dessert served during intermission. Tickets are $25 for evening dinner shows and $15 for Sunday matinees. Seats are limited. Reservations are highly encouraged. Call 790-6782 for reservations. Production will be held at First Christian Church, 5856 Ninth Avenue.


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