By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
Every year in December, the local theater community puts on a Christmas production. With last year’s lavish The Wizard of Oz, there was anticipation to see how this year’s “big” production would fare.
The events of 2020 speak for themselves.
A Doublewide, Texas Christmas (directed by Jay Jones) was set to be the Warehouse Living Arts Center’s summer performance, but COVID-19 set the production back. And back again until the “Christmas in July” production became an actual Christmas show.
Despite the long journey to get here, that delay looks to have worked in the show’s favor. It looks like Corsicana gets a holiday show after all.
A Doublewide, Texas Christmas is set very firmly in the “screwball comedy” genre. The characters are larger than life, the antics are zany, and the humor is fast-paced, self-aware, and downright silly at some points.
A sequel to the original Doublewide, Texas play, the production reunites the majority of the original cast, having increased their town’s population to a whopping 10 people.
The town’s newest addition, Patsy Price (Jodi Vasquez), has been taken in by her brother Haywood Sloggett (Jay Jones for this review’s performance, Stephen A. Elkins in the livestream) for a second chance. In the meantime, the tiny town’s residents are preparing for their own seasons greetings by taking part in the local “Battle For the Manger” competition, while the town’s mayor, Joveeta Crumpler (Alyssa Dunnahoe) hopes to finally incorporate Doublewide as a legitimate town.
If only any of that were actually simple.
The play starts off large, and provides regular laughs from a combination of witty one-liners and absurd situations. From rampaging raccoons to the genuinely laugh out loud bizarreness of “observing social distancing” that opens the second act, each cast member gets their time to shine.
From “Baby” Crumpler’s (Jarrod Lampier) constant physical mishaps to Big Ethel Satterwhite’s (Debbie Bigler) brashness, to Caprice Crumpler’s (Sharon Goodman) “small-town famous” status, the characters get a chance to play their roles big.
Even with the more subdued roles (or as close to “restrained” characters as this production gets), the actors who carry the roles of Georgia Dean Rudd (Darlene Pleiner), Lark Barken (Rachel Williams), and Haywood Sloggett (Jones) try to maintain a civil calm, but end up involved in the local shenanigans regardless. Charles Dunnahoe plays Nash Sloggett in a cameo role that provides a needed resolution in the production.
A Doublewide, Texas Christmas offers up equal measures of laughs and sentiment as the characters try their best despite their haphazard attempts to reach their goals. The actors have clearly used this extended rehearsal time to get the physical nuances of the comedy down to one fast beat after another, and the results are to the audience’s benefit.
Ticketing and seating is limited for this production due to adhering to COVID-19 protocols, but the performance itself was not hampered by the extra spacing.
Overall, A Doublewide, Texas Christmas may have not been the ending to the Warehouse Living Arts Center’s 2020 season we were expecting, but in light of how this crazy year has gone, it was certainly the one we needed.
Performance dates for the show:
Dec. 1-5: 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 5-6: 2:30 p.m.
For those that are unable to attend in person, an online streaming option is available by clicking the link here.