Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wetumpka Depot: "A Very Second Samuel Christmas"

The townsfolk of tiny fictional "Second Samuel, GA" recently took up residence at the Wetumpka Depot in an encore production of last season's A Very Second Samuel Christmas; playwright Pamela Parker has revised the play to enhance a few characters with only minor dramatic impact since much of it is narrative, but she has provided the central character named B-flat a monologue Christmas sermon that gives Jonathan Conner another opportunity to display his ample gifts as B-flat transforms into an elderly Black preacher and back again before our eyes.

B-flat, a man with a decent heart and nary a moral flaw in his crippled body and simple mind, narrates the story of what happened in Second Samuel one Christmastime in post-Korean war Truman Era.

The town's annual Christmas pageant is going to be conducted for the first time at the "Rock of Ages Free African Church", but the beloved 100-year-old pastor -- a man named "Wonderful Counselor" -- dies suddenly, and a storm floods the town and almost destroys the church, leaving a distraught Jimmy Deanne [Kim Mason] focussed more on her own inconvenience than on the two unfortunate events. And old prejudices come to the fore as the locals lose track of the reason for the season, and have to be reminded what really matters, helped by a miraculous appearance of an angel of the Lord and B-flat's persistent optimism.

The ensemble actors return intact, looking completely comfortable in their roles as before. The men continue to meet and argue in Frisky's [Stephen Dubberley] "Bait and Brew", while across town, the women gather and gossip in his wife Omaha's [Kristy Meanor] "Change Your Life Hair and Beauty" parlor. -- Eccentric personalities abound in this affectionate tale of a Christmas miracle.

As we are often distracted by the commercial appeal of the Christmas Season, perhaps we too might realize that it sometimes "takes a flood to get our attention", and we might learn from each other and from the words of the Angel to "fear not" as B-flat concludes the telling of the first Christmas.