When the Halloween just blends right into the Christmas season, it’s easy forÂ the devout become jaded by too much commercialization, too much rushing and too much Santa Claus.
Enter “The Forgotten Carols,” a show that brings the fundamentals of Christmas back to those tired of “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” In stark contrast to door-buster sales and long to-do lists, this sweet little show stands for what is most important in the Christmas holiday.
The show written by Michael McLean is the seasonal offering of Artisan Center Theater in Hurst. The musical puts a new twist on the old tale of Christmas Scrooge with a little role reversal. The holiday tale centers on a no-nonsense nurse, appropriately named Constance, and her aging patient, John. Set in Fort Worth, the play John insists on renaming her Connie Lou, and he gently shows her new ways to see life. As opposed to Dickens’ story, the one needing an awakening is a woman, while the one who guides her is a man, who may or may not be who he seems at first.
Set in Fort Worth, the tale unfolds when the nurse is sent to care for John, a kooky, aging gentleman in need of supervision. Constance unenthusiastically allows John to detail why he places certain ornaments on his Christmas tree, and stories woven with the unfamiliar carols from the show’s title.
As John, actor Dennis Canright is convincing and likeable in this leading role. Donna Cates, one of two actresses who play Constance in this double-cast show, transitions well from the stern professional to the warmer, understanding care-giver.
Other standouts include the precious-faced choir boy portrayed by David Rodriguez, the funny cabdriver played by Ted Ung. The role of Sarah, John’s best friend, is performed warmly by Dee Ann Blair, who wears multiple hats as the show’s director and an Artisan Center Theater’s founder.
A highlight of the musical was the “street corner” a cappella chorus of homeless. The song, “Homeless-Like the Christ Child Was,” was ably led by James Lash surrounded by a small ensemble. Also Roberto Reyna’s solo as the king was a high point of the show.
Music is sprinkled throughout the show, and some of the voices aren’t exactly operatic quality. In a way, though, the stretching to hit notes lends the show a human quality, underscoring that even ordinary people can possess meaningful gifts.
And those types of God-given gifts-not the type brought by Santa Claus-are part of the show’s message. For anyone wrapped up in the modern-day trappings of the season, “The Forgotten Carols” serves as a reminder of what Christmas should be about.
The musical, which features a double cast, will continue through Dec. 19 at the Hurst theater, located at 418 E. Pipeline Road.