The Cornwall clan, from left, of Tommy (Mack Gordon), Judy (Marlee Walchuk), Harry (David Adams) and Sissy (Emily Henney) prepares to embark on a 36-hour no-frills flight to Cancun for their Christmas adventure. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Fine cast provides a Christmas miracle for the Cornwalls in Chemainus Theatre Festival production

Genuine talents bring out the best from thin material and a lacking theme

Chemainus Theatre Festival’s Christmas offering of ‘Cornwalls’ All-Inclusive Cancun Christmas’ is co-authored by CTF Artistic Director Mark Dumez and Nicolle Natrass, directed by Barbara Tomasic.

It is clear from the outset this will be a comedic family travel holiday story replete with misfortunes, mishaps and misunderstandings. It is also a song fest relying on familiar tunes from popular media, including Christmas favourites. So far, so good.

Along the way, there is some fine song and dance and a few comic bits—the downside of flying on points, the pressure to upgrade the tour package, the barely concealed pregnancy, the multi-coloured mule.

The technical side can always be counted on to provide set design, staging, lighting, sound and costumes in CTF’s tradition of excellence, and it does.

And CTF proved once again its ability to assemble a wonderfully talented cast, seven on the stage and three musicians above it. Of the accompanists, we must salute CTF veteran Nico Rhodes, Music Director, Arranger and Orchestrator, not to mention gifted master of the keyboard.

On stage, David Adams as dad Harry and Marlee Walchuk as mom Judy are great together, lovey dovey on their anniversary. Mack Gordon as rambunctious son Tommy is obsessed with his electric guitar and frantic when it goes missing. Emily Henney is at her comedic best as pregnant daughter Sissy. Alexander Nicoll plays her affectionate husband Kyle.

Outstanding among this fine cast are Alen Dominguez as Fernando, recreation coordinator at the resort, and Andrea Pizarro as Dalila, maid and sometime guitarist and singer in a local band. Dominguez’s haunting rendition of Paloma is a highlight of the show and Pizarro’s unflagging energy and upbeat vibe in dance and song is exceptional. She positively glows.

All these are genuine talents whose challenge is to wring meaning and real emotion from thin material. But is this a happy musical review, a satire, a romance or a commentary on contemporary family life? This is never made clear. At times it seems like a storyline in search of itself.

Apart from the fact the family is far from home, out of its element and out of its depth, there is no consistent guiding theme to keep it all together. Not that we are ever in any doubt the Cornwalls are firmly attached to their Christmas traditions or that they all love one another dearly. But by itself, that is not enough. Instead we are presented with a bewildering sequence of more or less random events, none of which are challenging enough or pursued far enough to engage audience sympathy or attention.

With its 25-year tradition of excellence, Chemainus Theatre Festival has established a high standard of entertainment that theatre-goers have reason to hope will be maintained. This seasonal offering falls short. CTF patrons expect and deserve better.

‘Cornwalls’ All-Inclusive Cancun Christmas’ runs until Sunday, December 31.

Tom Masters is a writer and a resident of Chemainus.

Just Posted

The mother of all musicals leaves audience members wanting more

Mamma Mia! checks all the boxes as one of the Chemainus Theatre’s all-time best shows

Popular vocalist Daponte joined on Crofton stage by Don Leppard Big Band

Performances nothing short of remarkable with the singer’s instrumentation backing

Friends reflect on Descoteau’s great qualities

Positive memories remain about how he enriched their lives in so many ways

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

Most Read