Just when you thought you couldn’t take another holiday show, up pops The Crater Sisters’ Christmas Special at Best Medicine Rep. Bouncing along with creativity and zest, this Christmas special shows the transcendent power of love and care and slams through the doldrums with holiday cheer. I caught the world premiere last year and went back again this week for more – yes, it’s that good.
Rebecca A. Herron commands the stage as Bella Crater, a deluded, narcissist with powerhouse vocals and wild-eyed expressions to match. Bella considers herself a star, but is so obnoxious, no one wants to work with her. She peers in the mirror to pounce on tiniest facial imperfections but is blind to the massive flaws in her character. Her trusty assistant Tara, played winningly by Clarire Derriennic hangs on by a thread to keep her job while Tara’s fiancé Frank, an adorable Daniel Kingsley assists as much as he can. The only hope in trying to salvage a live stream Holiday special is to bring in Bella’s estranged sister, Lucy Crater, played with charm by co-creator Lori Boyd. They were an irresistible sister act as kids. How do they get past hurt, resentment, distrust and shame to actually work together again? That’s where the show zings with holiday zeal, bringing in ghosts and spirits and reflections and memories, that go beyond wildest dreams.
The Crater Sisters’ Christmas Special closes December 15, 2019. Details and tickets
Songs by John Morogiello and Lori Boyd fill the show with joy and the second act is full of surprises, including some show stoppers. Kingsley’s rendition of “I’m on the Naughty List” and Derriennic’s “They Tried to Kill Us, They Failed, Let’s Eat” ratchet the show to the stratosphere full of thought provoking wonder and cackling energy. Bella and Lucy yank the heartstrings as sisters working through pain and loss, struggling to see if they have the strength to be vulnerable again, enough to care. The direction is fast paced, the performers have terrific vocals and non-stop appeal, and the music and lyrics help transform what could have been well-worn material into a fun-loving, arm waving experience.
Versatile set design by Ali Mark goes from comfy dressing room to a holiday home décor for the live broadcast. As in previous works, Elizabeth Kemmerer again sets the perfect tone with crazy costumes as characters become ghosts of Christmas past and beyond. The “surprise guest” is a work of art not to be missed and the sisters are resplendent in colorful sparkling and elegant thigh cut full length gowns at the end.
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Walking past yet another shuttered anchor store in Gaithersburg’s Lakeforest Mall is a sad reminder of bustling shopping days gone by. If nothing else, it’s a fitting nudge to grab a jolly good time while you can. This Christmas Special is worth the trip.
The Crater Sisters’ Christmas Special Written and directed by John Morogiello and Lori Boyd. Cast: Rebecca A. Herron (plays Bella Crater); Claire Derriennic (plays Tara Bromfeld); Daniel Kingsley (plays Frank McBride); Lori Boyd (plays Lucy Crater). Set Design: Ali Mark. Light and Sound Design: John Morogiello. Costume Designer: Elizabeth Kemmerer. Produced by Best Medicine Rep Theater. Review by Debbie Minter Jackson.
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