|Susan Walker, played by Samantha LeClair meets Cindy Lou Who, played by Dani Morris at the bginning of the Ottawa School of Theatre production of 'The True Story of the Girl Who Saved Christmas & Maybe Even The World!' STAFF PHOTO
It’s been three long years since the Ottawa School of Theatre last graced the Richcraft Theatre stage with an all ages holiday production. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the OST Christmas play had become an annual tradition for live theatre aficionados in Orléans, along with East End Theatre’s pantomime play and Vintage Stock Theatre’s historic holiday productions.
Unfortunately, the East End Theatre company has joined the list of COVID victims and Vintage Stock is still in hiatus with hopes of making a return next year, leaving the OST as the only holiday production in town.
They celebrated their return to the stage on the weekend with an epic performance of an original production brilliantly written by two of their own – Bruce Deachman and Joanna Henry.
“The True Story of the Girl Who Saved Christmas and Maybe even The World!” is a whimsical tale of how Cindy Lou Who of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” fame, joins forces with Susan Walker to save Christmas. Don’t know who Susan Walker is? I don’t blame you, I didn’t know either until she introduced herself on stage as the young girl played by Nathalie Wood in the original “Miracle on 34th Street”.
Susan is an adult woman in the OST production and Cindy Lou is a pre-teen. The matter has been summoned to the North Pole by Santa with orders to bring Cindy Lou with her, since she already saved Christmas once from Christmas from the evil Grinch.
|The Wicked Witch of the West, played by Jennifer Rowberry, plots to ambush CIndy Lou Who with the Grinch and his rescue dog Spot. FRED SHERWIN/ PHOTO
Okay, well we all know that Cindy Lou never actually save Christmas in Whoville. It was actually the Grinch himself when his heart grew three sizes after hearing the whos sing their Christmas song. “Fahoo fores dahoo dores. Welcome Christmas, Christmas day”... you know the song.
Anyway, “The Story of the Girl Who Saved Christmas...” is one of those productions where you have to just go with the flow.
In order to get to the North Pole, Susan and Cindy Lou must avoid the Wicked Witch of the West who has recruited a who’s who (no pun intended) of dastardly colleagues including Yosemite Sam, the Joker, the Big Bad Wolf, Ebenezer Scrooge, Darth Vader, the Grinch, Dracula, Cruella de Vil and even Lady MacBeth. Quite the electic cast of characeters.
Thankfully, Susan and Cindy Lou are aided along the way by a now retired Superman, his wife Maleficent, Frosty the Snowman, Olaf from “Frozen”, and a rehabilitated Abominable Snowman.
In the final showdown, they are also joined by Buddy the Elf, Super Mario, Buzz Lightyear, Elsa, Winnie the Pooh Luke Skywalker, Princess Lei, Pikachu, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the East who is now a good witch, and Sherlock Holmes, all of whom were summoned to the North Pole by Santa. (I guess Rudolph was laid up with the flu, or on holidays.)
In the end, the ne’erdowells realize the error of their ways and embrace their inner Christmas spirit.
The entire cast was fantastic, but in particular I was most impressed by Dani Morris who played Cindy Lou Who. Her opening dialogue was nearly 10 minutes long. I mean, I can barely memorize a line or two, let alone several pages of script.
Samantha LeClair and Tim Edwards were also great as Susan and Darth Vader respectively, as was Jennifer Rowberry as the Wicked Witch of the West.
All in all, it was a joy just to be able to experience live theatre again. The fact that it was such a wonderful play was a definite bonus.