Review: TheaterWorks’ Christmas on The Rocks

Tom Bloom and Jenn Harris in TheaterWorks’ Christmas on the Rocks. Photo by Lanny Nagler.

by Mark G. Auerbach

Christmas on The Rocks, TheaterWorks’ non-traditional laugh-filled begins its sixth season of antics at the downtown Hartford theatre. It has rapidly become the new holiday season tradition for area theatregoers who need their season spiked with an abundance of laughs, some holiday spirit, and a first-class 90 minute laugh riot. This is my fourth visit to Christmas on the Rocks, and I loved it.

For those who’ve never been, TheaterWorks Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero had a group of contemporary playwrights develop a septet of playlets, each imagining a child from a favorite Christmas movie, who grew up to be dysfunctional. They all show up at a quiet out-of-the-way bar on Christmas Eve, pour out their troubles, and disappear into the holiday night air. Ruggiero directs the fast-paced adventure, and the show gets tighter and funnier as the seasons go by.

Jenn Harris in TheaterWorks’ Christmas on the Rocks. Photo by Lanny Nagler

There’s no new sketches in this year’s version of Christmas on The Rocks, but Randy Harrison has joined the cast, fitting in nicely with veterans Jenn Harris and Tom Bloom. Harrison, a veteran of TV’s Queer as Folk, the recent tour of Cabaret, and Broadway’s Wicked, has superb comic timing, in roles from Charlie Brown to Ralphie, and Tiny Tim. Harris continues to provide an overdose of laughs as Karen from Frosty The Snowman and Clara from The Nutcracker.

If you’ve never been to Christmas on The Rocks, it’s a must! If you have been, a return, just to see Randy Harrison’s performance is worth the trip to Hartford.

The Westfield News Group is one of the sponsors of this production.

Tom Bloom and Randy Harrison in TheaterWorks’ Christmas on the Rocks. Photo by Lanny Nagler

TheaterWorks presents “Christmas on The Rocks” conceived and directed by Rob Ruggiero. Playlets by John Cariani, Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas, Jeffrey Hatcher, Jacques Lamarre, Theresa Rebeck, and Edwin Sanchez. Scenic design by Michael Schwelkardt. Costume design by Aleto Vieti. Lighting design by John Lasiter. Sound design by Michael Miceli. Wigs by Mark Adam Rampeyer. Casting by McCorkle Casting Ltd. Cast: Tom Bloom, Jenn Harris, and Randy Harrison. Through December 23. TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT. For tickets: 860-527-7838 or www.theaterworkshartford.org

Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat Radio on 89.5fm/WSKB.

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