The Gift of the Magi: A 1920s-Themed Holiday Show, adapted by Michelle Murray Wells and the Sonorous Road Theatre & Film Studio creative team from a 1905 short story by Greensboro, NC native O. Henry (nee William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910), is referred to by them as an immersive theater experience, such as Sonorous Road offered during Halloween season with House of the Fury. By this, Sonorous Road means that the audience is allowed to take advantage of the very large space which comprises the theater.
The audience follows an usher from a speakeasy, presumably in New York City’s Greenwich Village, to the apartment of Della and Jim, back and forth in the area, to observe the play in the various settings required. No interaction with the performers is allowed, but the audience is invited to sing with the carolers.
Coins are available at the door to use in the speakeasy, for various drinks and snacks. The audience is served by three realistic looking flappers, adorned in sequins and feathers. We are admitted to the “joint” with a password given us with our tickets, which we whisper to the bartender/bouncer.
A fine four-piece band backing up an excellent singer entertain us as we await the action. (It would have been useful to have a program by which we could have recognized the performers and their roles.)
In their apartment, a slight tension begins, which was beautifully executed by Michelle Murray Wells and Jonathan King as Della and Jim, and raised to an uncomfortably brittle atmosphere prior to their leaving to meet with friends.
All the sets are excellent, although the sink in their little one room apartment is too modern for the period; but the cityscape is charming, replete with bloomers and socks hanging from a homemade clothesline.
The little square where the carolers sing, and they meet their friends who are making a special announcement, is sweet and bohemian. There is a little stand where audience members can create little Christmassy crafts, a Millenary Shoppe, and a Bakery which hands out samples. The little second-hand shop where Jim buys his gift in is nicely done.
The costumes are realistic for the period, and lent the characters an aura of O. Henry’s New York. We wish we had had a program, so we could credit whomever is responsible for them.
It was a great pleasure to see this classic Christmas short story by the master of irony performed by an expressive and talented cast. Surely, this group helps put the gift into the spirit of the meaning of this important religious holiday.
NOTE: There are only 16 seats available for each performance of this immersive theatrical experience whose runtime is approximately one hour. The scenes take place throughout the theater building, and there will be approximately 45 minutes of standing or walking.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 6th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-gift-of-the-magi/Event?oid=9955054; and Dec. 3rd Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article187836959.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 11th Triangle Review review by Katy Koop, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/12/choice-gift-of-the-magi-sonorous-road-2017/.)
Sonorous Road Theatre & Film Studio presents THE GIFT OF THE MAGI: A 1920s-Themed Holiday Show at 8, 9, and 10 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16; 3, 4, and 5 p.m. Dec. 17; and 8, 9, and 10 p.m. Dec. 22 and 23 in The Royal Bakery Building, 3801 Hillsborough St., Suite 113, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
BOX OFFICE: 919-803-3798 or https://www.sonorousroad.com/tickets/.
INFORMATION: 919-803-3798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOW: https://www.sonorousroad.com/gift-of-the-magi/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/483855508668467/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: https://www.sonorousroad.com/, https://www.facebook.com/sonorousroad/, and https://twitter.com/sonorousroad.
The Gift of the Magi (1905 short story): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gift_of_the_Magi (Wikipedia).
The Story: https://americanenglish.state.gov/files/ae/resource_files/1-the_gift_of_the_magi_0.pdf (American English).
Study Guide: http://edsitement.neh.gov/launchpad-o-henrys-gift-magi (EDSITEment! by the National Endowment for the Humanities).
O. Henry (Greensboro, NC-born short-story writer, nee William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910): https://www.britannica.com/biography/O-Henry (Encyclopædia Britannica), http://www.austintexas.gov/department/o-henry-museum (O. Henry Museum), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._Henry (Wikipedia).
Michelle Murray Wells (adapter): https://www.michellemurraywells.com/ (official website), https://www.sonorousroad.com/staff/ (Sonorous Road bio), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8678173/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.wells.9 (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.