On Saturday night, Dec. 21, Alma Viator and Ben Jones of Harris Hollow are putting on a free concert of “Christmas carols and songs of the season” at The Theatre in Washington, featuring Jones and his Cooter’s Garage Band, and hosted by none other than Santa Claus himself.
Jones, aka “Cooter,” says the show is a benefit for the Rappahannock Food Pantry and that everyone should bring canned goods or other non-perishable foods to the event. “I’m sure financial contributions to the Pantry would also be very welcome,” says Viator.
“The RappHappy Holidays Show,” as Jones is calling it, starts at 6:30 p.m., with Mr. Claus greeting everyone in the Theatre lobby. The music follows at 7.
“Santa was really disappointed that our wonderful parade had to be canceled, and so was everybody else,” says Jones, referring to last Sunday’s Christmas in Little Washington event, called off due to snow and ice. “I’ve known St. Nicholas for over 70 years, and I try to stay on his good side. I understand from reliable sources that he is making a list and checking it twice to find out who is naughty and who is nice. Our band will be on their best behavior!”
The Theatre is at 291 Gay St., Washington. For concert (or other) information from the Food Pantry, email info@RappahannockPantry.org or call 540-675-1177.
Counting the cast and crew — plus kid-, costume- and set-wranglers and the the 75 or so in the audience at each of five RAAC Community Theatre performances of “Alice in Wonderland” this month — something like 7 percent of the county’s population will get a glimpse through the looking glass this month.
By most counts (though not all, since we didn’t check with the sheriff’s office), this is slightly more than the average month here amid the hills, hollows and other hidden thrills of Rappahannock County.
By any standards, however, this year’s community Christmas play by the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC), based on last Saturday afternoon’s show (Dec. 7), is one of its most intoxicating — and fun — ever.
A recent adaptation of the 19th-century satirical novels by Lewis Carroll, this “Alice” brings a cast of about 60 to the stage of the venerable RAAC Theatre — and brings them, literally, from dressing and changing rooms across the street in Ken Thompson’s Kramer Building. With a good part of the cast members younger than 10, there are plenty of opportunities for disarray — but none of that happened Saturday. Credit should go first to the volunteer shepherds who spent half the night outdoors making sure everyone looked both ways before crossing.
Credit for the evening’s abundance of array should go to director Howard Coon, a RAAC veteran, and first-time co-director Petrina Huston. Everyone sang, spoke and showed up sharp (and only occasionally flat) — and everyone, down to the youngest, seemed completely committed to giving voice to Carroll’s classically odd (and still startlingly relevant) prose. Stage presence, which isn’t something easily taught, was everywhere.
There were standouts, as always; I hesitate to name them, lest others feel slighted, and the evening on the whole was so much high-intensity, low-comedy fun. But we only have a 10-page newspaper this week, so here goes:
Lakota Coon’s turn as a sharp-tongued, short-sighted Humpty Dumpty, with just her face, voice and Mickey Mouse-gloved-hands up there on the wall, was the highlight of my evening. Others included Brendan Martyn’s nuclear-powered (and -haired) Mad Hatter (and Lyt Wood’s wild and wooly counterpoint as the Hare); Megan Smith’s Monty Pythonesque Mock Turtle (and her warbling, memorably goofy duet with Ella Schultz as the Gryphon); Patty Hardee’s Scarlett O’Hara-inspired, dangerously impish Cheshire Cat; compelling turns by adult actors Deverell Pederson, Elizabeth Hauris, Dawn Schimke and Bryan Lockett; and promisingly right-there performances by young actors Hollis and Connor Martin (snapping smartly from slapstick to painted-on smiles as the Tweedles) Winnie Thompson (in several too-brief roles), Elise Wheelock (as the Queen O Hearts) and Carolina Leonard, holding everything together in the title role.
As RAAC Artistic Director Peter Hornbostel said during intermission Saturday: “You should have seen it a week ago — it was a disaster. Actually, every play I’ve ever been involved with is a disaster a week before it opens. And then, by some magic . . .”
Yes, magic is the word (and we didn’t even mention the sets and costumes, which were totally magical, especially considering the pay scale). Unfortunately, unless you already are among the lucky .5 percent of Rappahannock’s population that already has tickets to this weekend’s final performances of “Alice,” you’ll need some powerful magic to get past the sold-out signs on Gay Street.
— Roger Piantadosi
Richard Viguerie, Rappahannock resident and one of the “founding fathers” of the modern conservative political movement, is the guest speaker at the annual holiday gathering of the Friends of Liberty this evening (Thursday, Dec. 12) at 6:30 p.m. The free event, open to all, is at Gray Ghost Vineyards (14706 Lee Hwy.) in Amissville. Viguerie, who is chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, will speak on “Changing the Rules of the Game,” on the politics of the 2014 and 2016 elections and the role of conservatives in the Republican party. To reserve, contact Barbara Cioffi at 540-937-2504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are down to the final stretch for the Senior Angel Tree,” says Rappahannock Senior Center manager Darcy Canton, “Less than 20 angels left to be adopted.” She’s talking about the tree inside Union First Market Bank, decorated with angels that each bear the gift suggestions of a local senior citizen; an instruction sheet and sign out list are there as well, with gifts due back on Monday (Dec. 16). More than 110 angels have already been adopted, Canton says. “Be a blessing to a senior in our community! Enjoy the gift of giving — it’s a win/win for all involved!”
Call Canton at 540-987-3638 with any questions about the Senior Angel Tree.
Mountainside Dance Center & Physical Therapy’s Christmas Office Party is open to Businesses of Rappahannock members and all friends, according to dance center founder Philip Rosemond, and it’s also an open house for the adjacent Ginger Hill Antiques complex. The party is 5 to 7:30 p.m. next Thursday (Dec. 19) at 12625 Lee Hwy. (opposite Rock Mills Road). “Join us celebrating the season at our facilities! Come, have fun and find out more about our organizations!” says Rosemond, who adds that limited libations are available, so BYO food and drink if possible. For more information, call 540-622-7308.