Best For: Christmas message, humor, food
Worst For: Music, smaller kids
Sherry Konjura and Cynthia DiSavino offer a CHRISTMAS IN PARADISE at Rainbow Dinner Theatre in Paradise, Lancaster County, and the show, under DiSavino's direction, delivers just that. Three couples – three sisters and their husbands – have headed from New York to Lancaster County to celebrate a family Christmas at a Pennsylvania Dutch inn, only to find their plans thwarted by weather and by the vicissitudes of life.
Instead of winding up at the inn, they are forced to seek Christmas Eve shelter at what appears to be a deserted Amish farmhouse. Not necessarily altogether wise in the ways of the city, they are completely helpless at the mercy of traditional Amish living. They can't find lights, they can't find heat, they can't find food – except for plentiful canned ones – and they can't find a bathroom. And, having watched far too many made-for-TV horror movies, that door that must lead to the basement is a source of almost as much terror as are the strange farm animals in the barn.
Elizabeth, the eldest sister, played convincingly by, and her husband, Brad (Bradley "Bing" Ingersoll) also have a secret. Whether their relatives have guessed it correctly or not, they're certainly causing a panic of major proportions. Grant (Scott Russell) and middle sister Susan (Crystal Day VanArtsdalen) have one notion of what it is, and youngest and dizziest sister, Rita (Rachel Blauberg), whose notion of cooking dinner is "making reservations" and her husband Stan (Jimmy "2Step" Cosentino) have their own off-kilter theory of the situation… and of what the odd Amish people who own the property might be like.
When Amish neighbors (and relatives of the homeowners) Samuel (Gerry Konjura) and Abigail (Sherry Konjura) arrive to tend to The Farm, the day is saved… except… not quite.
Four couples and five doors on stage are the giveaway that this is a Christmas farce – and a fine one at that. One-liners abound ("The Chinese stuff – it says 'chow chow' on it") as do the inevitable city-slicker-meets-farm-animal jokes (Stan, sporting a real shiner, is pleased to announce that he milked the cow "and it didn't feel a thing"), all in good and extremely clean humor.
The Konjura family makes a very funny, and very realistic, Amish couple. Blauberg and Cosentino are comical as the young couple that hasn't quite lost their puppy-love nicknames for each other yet, nor have they yet found any common sense.
Young children would probably prefer Santa, music, and dancing candy canes, but older children and teens should enjoy the humor, including the nods to the fallibility of modern technology, and adults across the age spectrum should enjoy this tremendously. The meaning of Christmas is shown clearly, yet without being preachy and without bludgeoning the audience – the meaning is that you can only have a rip-roaring family fight when you're surrounded by your loved ones so you can argue, isn't it? Oh, whoops – it's a good old-fashioned comedy; they'll kiss and make up by the end. Secrets will be revealed, misconceptions straightened out, coffee drunk, and Amish cooking secrets disclosed, even as half the cast goes dashing off stage left in another chase.
You'll be reminded of the fact that no Christmas is perfect, but that no holiday has to be perfect for it to be paradise one way or another.
The show is accompanied by a small but delicious buffet that should have more than a little something for everyone, as well as more than enough dessert either at lunch or at dinner. Between the food and the show, the audience will leave smiling.
The show is called CHRISTMAS IN PARADISE, the theatre is located in Paradise, and you, like the cast of the show, will no doubt find "paradise" an apt description of the holiday mood at Rainbow.
CHRISTMAS IN PARADISE plays at Rainbow Dinner Theatre through December 29. Don't miss this one. It's absolutely worth fighting the Route 30 traffic to get there. Call 800-202-4301 or visit www.rainbowdinnertheatre.com for tickets.
Image Credit: Rainbow Dinner Theatre