In the opening scene of Casa Mañana Theatre’s production of Here Comes Santa Claus, children lament about the last day of school before the holidays as they sing “Everybody Wants to Go Home.”
The well-choreographed number immediately lets the audience know that this isn’t your typical Christmas production. In fact, Here Comes Santa Claus is a hodgepodge of A Christmas Carol and High School Musical wrapped in a Glee-like bow.
The story centers around bratty Simon Crooges (Samuel Moran). Obnoxious Simon begins class by making fun of the teacher Mrs. Pinklegrass (Alyssa Robbins) and her daughter Suzy (Sarah Youngblood and Camryn Wright share the role). The mother-daughter are late to class because of their broken-down car, and Simon has no qualms insulting them for not being as rich as he is.
When Simon is asked to read his assignment on what Christmas means to him, it’s not a surprise that he lists only material things and brags about how wealthy his family is. Mrs. Pinklegrass relays Simon’s classroom antics to his mom (Cate Cozzens), who promptly sends the boy to his room.
In his room, Simon is visited by the ghost of his late goldfish Howard (Paul T. Taylor), who lets him know that he’s on Santa’s naughty list and warns him that he will be visited by three spirits -- Christmas Past (Lauren Magee and Brooke Verbois), Christmas Present (Greg Dulcie) and Christmas Future (Brandon Shreve). Howard launches into his underwater version of I Say A Little Prayer, complete with backup singers.
This is one of many mash-ups throughout the play of popular songs with made-for-this-production lyrics. Some are incredibly funny and work well with the story line, such as Prayer, while others are a bit corny, like the duet between Simon’s mom and dad (Keith Warren) to the tune of the Grateful Dead’s He’s Gone. Smartly, the title song is appropriately left untouched.
For the most part, the uncoventional presentation brings a lively twist to the classic Christmas tale. As with all Casa productions, the child actors are true pros and are a delight to watch.
In the end, the true meaning of Christmas is learned by all.