Actors outshine brightest decorations in ‘Seasons Greetings’

See why everyone at the David Douglas High School Theater Department is enthusiastic about their wickedly-funny Winter comedy …

Aunt Harriet (played by Becca Daigle) is both fascinated and shocked by the vicious content of TV program she – as the Milquetoast physician Bernard (Michael Tippery) registers his distain for all violence.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The nine cast members of the David Douglas High School (DDHS) Thespians troupe who brought the comedy, Seasons Greetings to life on opening night, March 7, engaged the audience in the wacky story about a dysfunctional family gathering.

The DDHS student actors took on roles of the characters, most of them relatives plus a couple of friends, who try to coexist during a four-day Christmas gathering — in the play, which was penned by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn in 1980.

“I just love the writing,” said the show’s director, and DDHS Drama Instructor Judy LeCoq, “It’s very tight, quick, and wittily well-written.”

Unlike typical farces, Seasons Greetings focuses on “situation comedy” interaction of seemingly mismatched couples who strive to be understood, adored – or ignored.

All of the extended family is drawn to the “Shark Week” bloodbath television show Harriet has called them over to see.

As the show opens, actor Becca Daigle, who plays Harriet, aunt to the lady of the house and her brother, is transfixed by a violent TV show she’s watching in the parlor. As Harriet, Daigle’s character – a cantankerous woman who boasts about “thirty years experience” as a security officer, decries the “collapse of society” – but seems transfixed by violent TV movies. So much so that she draws other members of the household in to watch the programs.

Bernard (Michael Tippery) tries to lighten spirits as he sets the Christmas table; but “lay-about” Eddie (Gabe Braet) isn’t buying any of it.

All of this irritates man-of-the-house Bernard, played by actor Michael Tippery. His acting skills make it clear that the cool and distant (and usually dull) Bernard has strong views regarding non-violence, which he shares with anyone who will listen.

Holding high one of his puppets, Bernard tries to interest Belinda (Sable VanMeter) in his upcoming home production of The Three Little Pigs – and all of their families, too, of course”.

Ably taking on the major role of Belinda, actor Sable VanMeter shows a wide range of emotion that ranges from irritation at being ignored by her shopkeeper husband Neville (ably played by Alex Montgomery), to boredom from being in a lackluster relationship, to lustful enthusiasm after coming under the spell of a visiting writer.

Neville (Alex Montgomery) and his protégé Eddie (Gabe Braet) are far more interested in playing with remote-controlled gadgets than attending to his wife, Belinda.

Neville and his sidekick Eddie (played rebelliously by Gabe Braet) do well portraying men, who are more interested in tinkering – and quaffing a pint at the pub – than being attentive to their wives.

Eddie is confronted by his wife Pattie (Shelby Hannsman), who demands he helps out with his children.

Actor Shelby Hannsman plays Eddie’s wife, Pattie, who is “pregnant again”, and puts across the frustration of being nearly abandoned in caring for their kids, yet showing the tenderness of a sweetheart when helping her drunk hubby up to bed after a Christmas Day of imbibing.

Although she invited a writer she dated “once or twice” to visit for the weekend, Rachel (Sarah Granberg) prefers to spend time with a book.

As actor Sarah Granberg’s character, Belinda’s sister Rachel, struggles with concepts of romance, love, and relationships, she emotes hopeful expectation, disappointment, sullenness, rage, and sorrow – all within a few minutes – as she tries to come to terms with a late-to-arrive guest, Clive.

Although not ostensibly a Romeo, Clive (Ethan Archer) is smitten when he meets Belinda. Obviously, she also feels a spark of attraction.

Playing Clive, a writer with modest success, actor Ethan Archer takes charge of his major role with ease. As Clive, he does his best to fit into an odd – some might say dysfunctional – family, all struggling to make Christmas the most joyous day of all.

Phyllis (Kendell McCrary) laughingly accuses Clive of cheating at a late-night game of “Snakes and Ladders” – before trying to “get to know him much better”.

Clive is really put on the spot, when the woman-of-the-house, the generally-tipsy Phyllis (delightfully portrayed by Kendell McCrary), wants to “get to know him much better” –after a besotted game of “Snakes and Ladders”.

As the play unfolds, questions abound:

  • Will Phyllis finally get Christmas dinner on the table?
  • Can Aunt Harriet tear herself away from the TV to enjoy the Holidays?
  • Might Eddie help his wife Pattie – or is he off with to party with Neville again?
  • How many times will Belinda have to “check the kitchen” before she’ll find the time is right for her and her new admirer?
  • Will everyone be forced to sit through another of Bernard’s dreadful and long puppet shows?
  • Can Clive escape this weekend with his sanity – and his life?

Go see Seasons Greetings, and all will become clear – well, mostly clear, that is!

The family rush to see what causes the commotion near the Christmas tree.

Seasons Greetings continues in March
The DDHS Theater production of Seasons Greetings plays on four more evenings, over two weekends. Plan to see it on this weekend on March 8; or on March 13, 14, or 15. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Students/Seniors: $7; Adults: $10.

The cast of Seasons Greetings takes accepts the adulation of the audience.

The DDHS Theater Box Office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 3:00 until 5:00. Even easier, reserve your tickets online: CLICK HERE. They prefer you to pay for (check or cash) and pick up your tickets in advance of the show night, but they’ll hold them for you at the Box Office until 7:00 p.m. on the night of the show.

The Box Office and Theater are in the David Douglas High School Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Avenue, located between SE Stark and Division Streets. Call (503) 261-8270 for more information.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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