Thursday, November 26, 2009

TOYLAND IS A REAL TREAT! A review by Kathleen Szmit

Beat the bah, humbugs with BHS holiday show

With all the unpleasantness happening in the world, getting into the holiday spirit can be challenging. I highly recommend taking time to see the latest show from the Barnstable High School Drama Club, Babes in Toyland. For a mere $10 you’ll chuckle, you’ll groove, you’ll grin, and you’ll come away in a much happier and more festive mood than when you walked in.

Babes brings together myriad Christmas and fairy tale folk to tell the tale of Mary Quite Contrary, her charming beau Tom, the dastardly Barnaby, and their somewhat epic, but mostly humorous, adventure that takes place somewhere near the North Pole.
It seems the greedy Barnaby has designs on fair Mary, but not because he’s truly in love with the lass. No, Barnaby happens to know that upon marrying, Mary will receive a sizeable inheritance, money that Barnaby desires.

There’s just one problem: Mary is in love, but with Tom, son of Santa’s chief Toymaker. Tom, as it just so happens, loves Mary, as well, and plans to propose. Before he gets the chance, though, Barnaby, enlisting the assistance of two goofy entrepreneurs, sets in motion a plan to get Tom out of the picture and have Mary – and her money – all for himself.

Those familiar with the BHSDC know that when they put on a show they go all out. Babes is no exception. I do have to admit, however, that as I was far from being in the holiday spirit, I had my qualms about seeing the show, not quite ready for jingling bells and “ho, ho, hos.”

When I heard the Christmas music playing over the speakers of the Performing Arts Center at BHS, my inner Scrooge cringed. I took my seat, and a deep breath, and waited for the curtain to rise.

When it did, boy did that inner Scrooge get a kick in the pants. Spread out across the stage were cheeky elves dressed in festive red and green, busily wrapping packages under the encouraging eye of the Toymaker, nicely played by BHS English teacher Ed O’Toole.

As the orchestra played from the pit beneath the stage, the elves burst into cheery song, giving old Scrooge another sharp nudge. Then Head Elf #1 and Elf #2, well done by Michelle McGaughey and Kristen Corbett, kicked off the story, setting in motion a show filled with rapid-fire dialog, well-timed jokes, and some fantastic song and dance.

Not even halfway through the first act I realized Scrooge had left the building, leaving me to enjoy the hilarious antics of Gonzorgo and Ronrico as they attempted to help the evil Barnaby with his sinister plans to eliminate Tom and claim Mary and her money.
As the dunce-ish duo, Jeremy Peacock and Travis Manni were laugh-out-loud funny, while Tom Myers was decadently wicked as the villainous Barnaby, the trio garnering big laughs throughout the show.

Kat Lovett was suitably sweet as Mary, bringing a truly melodious voice to the role, while Sean Potter was excellent as Tom, boasting a smooth singing voice of his own. Olivia Nee was winning as Mother Hubbard, Mary’s mother, and Shannon Pacella was a perfect Bo Peep in her pink bonnet and poufy frock, while Ethan Pulsifer was splendidly jolly as Santa.

A BHSDC show wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by the infamous Keystone Cops, led in this performance by the entertaining Andrew Harmon. With backup from cops including Charlie Ferguson, Nick Bancroft, Michael Palmer, Caleb Seaver, Igor Anastacio, Charlie Nash, Blake Cordeiro, and more, Harmon performed an impressive version of the Tarantara song first heard in Pirates of Penzance.

One of the finest and most energetic performances, however, came from newcomer Adam Barosy as the Jester, getting everyone clapping as he masterfully rapped out one of the show’s main numbers, one of several special songs written by Roy Richard. Look for some terrific choreography from Shannon Pacella, as well.

I also can’t forget to mention the adorable sheep: Morgan Nailor, Rachel Corliss, Nora Canady, Rachel Gardner, Sophia Zuniga, Olivia Chute, Kate Walsh, and the hysterical Anne Kennedy who got her kicks bruising the shins of Barnaby, much to the audience’s delight.

Karen Mannal deserves many kudos for her stylish costumes, including the frightening bogeymen.

The sets, created by a team including Matheus Fiuza, CJ-Cea Curry, Charlie Pineo, Kevin Shanley, Justin Massarsky, Conor Slack, Lindsey Bill, Alex Ferreira, Michelle McGaughey, and Tom Crabtree, are eye-catching and thematic, enhanced wonderfully by lighting from Chad Goddard. Stage manager Cea-Curry also did a fantastic job of keeping the show moving along nicely, in spite of a set glitch.

Because the show is double-cast to give all of Barnstable’s stars a chance to shine, I recommend seeing the show twice. It’s certainly worth it.

As Babes came to its conclusion – a happy ending for all – and the snow began to fall inside the theatre, I realized that I had quite a smile on my previously Scroogelike face. What really sold me on the magic of the show was the reaction of the children in the seats nearby. On their faces, inspired by the merriment and mayhem of Babes in Toyland, was the true joy of Christmas; such a wondrous gift indeed.

Later, Scrooge.

Remaining performances of the BHS Drama Club production of Babes in Toyland at the BHS Performing Arts Center, 744 West Main St., Hyannis are Nov. 27, and 28 at 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees Nov. 28, and 29. All seats are $10.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Santa Arrives in Toyland!

Toyland Santa's Arrival and Presents!!!

Santa and his elves arrive in Toyland with presents for everyone!

Barnaby gets a present

Mary's Little Lamb offers Mean Old Barnaby a present while Santa watches on.

Photos from Toyland

Barnaby is captured by Toyland's Police Force under the direction of Santa Claus, while Tome, Mary, Gonzorgo and Ronrico look relieved!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Babes in Toyland Press Release

When the Barnstable High School Drama Club put on A Christmas Carol last year, many passages stuck in the memory of the students, but one passage resonated with them more than any other. It occurs early in the play, when Scrooge is visited by two solicitors. When he asks them why they are asking for a donation for the needy at Christmas, one of them responds, “It is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt.” This year, a year when Want will be more keenly felt than ever, the Drama Club will be using its upcoming production of Babes in Toyland to contribute to two charitable causes.

The set from Babes in Toyland, which will cost about $2,000 in materials when completed, will be donated to The Cape Codder Hotel, where it will be used as part of their Enchanted Village. Last year visitors to the Enchanted Village donated over $10,000 in food, toys, and gift cards to Independence House. In addition, Drama Club members will also appear each weekend of the Enchanted Village costumed as Dickens-era carolers, as they have for the past seven years, to help guests and visitors get into the holiday spirit.

Babes in Toyland will also be helping the Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary raise money for the third year in a row. The Drama Club will be donating the profits from the Dec 21 matinee to the Auxiliary. As an added treat, Hospital Regional Marketing Director Van Northcross will be playing the part of Old King Cole during that matinee performance.

“It’s all about the community in which you live.” says John Sullivan, Drama Club advisor and director of Babes in Toyland. “I try to instill in the club members (totaling over 150) a sense of belonging to a community and helping out whenever we can.”

This isn’t the first time the Drama Club has worked with the community to help raise money for charitable causes. Since its inception the club has also worked with The March of Dimes telethons, the Diabetes Foundation, Housing Assistance corporation, Big Brothers and Sisters of the Cape and the Islands, Champ House, Independence House and many others.

This summer The Drama Club even helped raise money for the Barnstable school system. Sullivan designed the layout for the 9-hole mini-golf course on Main Street in Hyannis and created with his students a 30-foot-long, 14-foot -tall sea serpent, which eventually captured the award for the favorite hole on the course. The attraction helped raise over $15,000, which was recently allocated to different enrichment programs throughout the school system.

RecentlyThe Drama Club donated $6,500 for a large marble fountain which serves as a centerpiece in Barnstable High School’s Memorial Garden, located in the Cobb Astro Park. The Drama Club was proud to help out this important school project, to which many people throughout the community have donated time, effort and materials, to honor deceased Barnstable students and staff.

Babes in Toyland has long been a favorite of the BHS Drama Club. Written in 1903 by Victor Herbert, the operetta has been made into numerous motion pictures, most famously asThe March of the Wooden Soldiers (1933), which featured Laurel and Hardy, and as Walt Disney’s Babes in Toyland (1962). “I’ve always considered Babes in Toyland the ultimate in holiday entertainment,” said Sullivan. “You’ve got Santa Claus, the elves, a befuddled toymaker, Bo-Peep and her sheep, a pair of not-so-sharp funny characters and the classic melodrama villain, the evil Mr. Barnaby. And of course, everybody’s most feared pack of bad guys, the Bogeymen.”

When Sullivan adapted the show for the Drama Club back in 1984, he took out what he calls “the slower songs, the ones that make kids squirm,” and added a few surprises, including the band of heroic policemen from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance led by Groucho Marx, complete with pith helmet and cigar.

Sullivan also notes that in that first production of Babes in Toyland, Barnaby was played by BHS alum Neal McDonough, seen most recently on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. “Once a bad guy, always a bad guy, I guess,” mused Sullivan.

Babes in Toyland is a fun-filled show for all ages and a perfect way not just to welcome in the holiday season, but to contribute to those in need. Babes in Toyland opens November 20 at 7 PM with shows on November 21st at 2 PM and 7 PM, November 22 at 2 PM, November 27 at 7 PM, November 28 at 2 PM and 7 PM and November 29th at 2 PM. All seats are $10. For reservations, call (508) 771-6246.

Babes in Toyland _Past production photos

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The Drama Club Meeting of Babes in Toyland tonight (TUESDAY NOV 10) has been cancelled and rescheduled for tomorrow night (WED NOV 11) from 6 to 9. A work meeting will take place from 9am to 6pm Wed for all those interested. Remember Wed rehearsal at 6 to 9 for the full cast of Babes in Toyland.