Nuncrackers is the latest in a long line of satirical holiday musicals put on by the cozy Renton Civic Theatre. With all of the big budget productions at TeenTix Partners, small theatre companies like Renton Civic Theatre can often get lost in the shuffle. Nuncrackers is a bright, shining reminder of the warmth community theatre can bring to the holiday season.
Nuncrackers follows the taping of the Mt. Saint Helens Convent’s first cable TV holiday special, drawing its patrons into strenuous last minute solutions to their problems of injured performers and unfortunate, on-air innuendos. The audience is thrown into the shenanigans of the convent's sisters as the actors draw the “live viewer audience” into the shenanigans with ‘secret’ Santas and sing-alongs. The show bursts with comedy and life as the sisters perform original Christmas carols like "Twelve Days Prior to Christmas" and "Christmas Time is Nunsense Time" and perform their new and improved version of the classic Nutcracker.
The show takes a humorous angle that springs mainly from miscommunication and pre-established relationships between the characters developed before the stage was set. Most of the comical aspect comes from the dramatic irony of the show. Many of the jokes were based around religion and the world surrounding the nunnery. The audience's laughter was continuous throughout the show, but it wasn’t always my ‘cup of tea'. Since religion wasn’t a subject that I held expansive knowledge over, some of the jokes went over my head, alienating me from the other, generally older audience members. But in the same vein, when it came to more relatable jokes like sibling dynamics or misheard lyrics, I found myself laughing along with the rest of the group.
The show’s venue is also responsible for this atmosphere, and one starts to feel Christmas cheer before the show even starts. The smaller venue makes the show feel intimate, and audience members chat with friends and actors wandering the aisles in full costume and character alike. When the production head welcomes the audience to the show and jokes with them like old friends, the audience can sense that the playhouse has a strong community. As a community theatre, the production is rehearsed and prepared in the spare time of the performers, and the heart they put into their performances shows the dedication they have to bring the production to life. While the performance lacks the extravagance and high production values fancy lighting and large venues may bring, and many TeenTix Partners offer, the community and enthusiasm of Nuncrackers displays the holiday spirit. It’s the perfect event for Christmas time.
Nuncrackers played at Renton Civic Theatre December 6-21, 2019. For event information see here.