The Gift of the Magi – 2 makes one

December 2, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.40.09 PMBy Constance Scrafield

Act One of Gift of the Magi is a coming together, a change of intention, and, of course, with David Nairn at the helm, a love story. It is a very satisfying little tale almost complete in its way, yet still leaving questions.

These are answered in Act Two.

“Quite normal,” you say and we say, “See the show.”

This is Leslie Arden’s work, a lady of tremendous talent and lots of surprises. The Gift of the Magi, which opened on November 26 and runs until December 20, mixes the well-loved themes of the persistent cop who will never give up chasing the perceived villain even though he may be trying to “go straight,” with the idea of what two lovers will sacrifice the one for the other. Happy times.

That it is written by Ms. Arden means that it is a musical, for, as she told us earlier, she makes her living writing them. So, thank you, Ms Arden, for this one; in our opinion, it is the best musical we have seen on the Theatre Orangeville stage.

During the pre-show interview Ms. Arden, commented, “…it’s really rare to do a new musical in Canada.”

As Artistic Director, David Nairn is determined to promote by producing new work by Canadian playwrights and composers. These are diligently pushed through workshops to present Theatre Orangeville audiences with the best in entertainment.

For sure, the Gift of the Magi is up to and above the mark. As always, Mr. Nairn has brought in actors with impressive resumés who are simply wonderful on stage.

Mairi Babb, as Della (Adeline Adams), with all the passion that her bewilderment, anguish and joys entail, keeps us tied to the story.
She is beautiful and engaging. She sings like an angel and is everything her single role demands of her.

The romantic interest in Della’s life, Jimmy Valentine, considered early as being a great villain, a dastardly safecracker, is beautifully played by Mark Uhre, vivacious but, at one point, a lost soul.

This the single role for Mr. Uhre and he has plenty to do to fill it but fill it he does, most admirably, delivering all Ms Arden’s songs with sincerity and exquisite musicality.

Two tortured souls, looking for the answer that is right before them. Stand back for the gusto and irrepressibility of Glynis Ranney, who plays the roles of, primarily, Della’s friend, Bessie, and the outrageously delightful Mme Sofronie.

In the first act, as Bessie, she is deceptively demure (almost) but she more than makes up for that in the second act. Hang on to your hats!

Cyrus Lane, as Ben, is the obsessive police detective that will never leave off pursuing Jimmy Valentine. Mr. Lane supports several roles in The Gift of the Magi, and he wears them all well, a fine voice and excellent consistency in his changing characters.

So, too, Cory O’Brien, who promised to “wear many hats,” firstly as the manager of the bank where Jimmy Valentine’s life changes and then, covering all the bases of characters as needed with perfect aptitude. Singing to fill your heart, leaving nothing to fault, Mr. O’Brien is a fine presence on the stage.

Welcome back to Lindsay Scheel, marvellous as always, given that this is her third appearance in the Theatre Orangeville Christmas show. Young Ms Scheel, as May, only cares about dancing and singing in her private life. The quality of her performance is a tribute to that dedication.

Similarly, Hayla Howat, playing May’s sister, Agatha, is endearing and badly behaved some of the time, making miserable faces that break us up. She is also a youngster who is completely involved in her enthusiasm for dancing and singing.

Speaking of singing, it is a pleasure to see members of the T.O.Y.S. do their bit for the show. They are a special feature in the Christmas productions and were a treat for this one as well.

Even though there is an aspect of this show that we will discuss next that must be quite wild back stage, the cast members breeze on and off as though nothing extraordinary is going on.

However, let us say that, off-stage, are the unsung but also stars of this produc- tion: the back stage crew, who should have had their own space on the program. The whole set is a spinning trio of sets, which are rearranged at every spin in the most creative way.

Added to this, the costumes, which are exactly right for the production, are changed with eye blinking rapidity. We, the audience, are dazzled by the comings and goings of the cast in their next outfit or dress, mere moments from their last appearance on the stage.

A quick word on opening night with Beckie Morris, the genius behind the creation of the set, told us, “It was really busy back stage; the crew are exhausted – they only had very little time for each change and the coordination [of the props and costumes] had to be spot-on.”

All this is gathered together by director Nairn, with his usual flair, somehow making it work so smoothly. Actors always rave about working with him, which must be part of the explanation for the success of his productions.

Nice lighting design by Steve Lucas, Theatre Orangeville’s “unofficial lighting designer.”

The thing about lighting is that, when it is just right, it can blend so well as to be almost forgotten. Mr. Lucas got this just right.

With humorous choreography by KiriLyn Muir, there is everything to really love about The Gift of the Magi.

So, ring the theatre telephone off the hook, as it were, and fill the theatre for this fantastic production.

The Gift of the Magi runs until December 20. Tickets as always at the Box Office on Broadway (in the Town Hall) and the Tourist Information Office on Buena Vista Drive at Highway 10 519-942-3423 and online at

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