Get into the Holiday Spirit with & Elf: The Musical & A Spin on New Year’s Eve - TribPapers

Get into the Holiday Spirit with & Elf: The Musical & A Spin on New Year’s Eve

The Magnetic Theatre’s New Queer’s Eve. Photo by Jennifer Bennett.

Asheville – This year’s holiday offering from The Magnetic Theatre is looking forward to the new year by looking back at New Year’s Eve through the decades. A celebration of and homage to the queer community, showing them as not just token characters. Not tropes or exaggerations. Not solely defined by who they are attracted to, but as fully developed, often wildly hilarious, individuals.

New Queer’s Eve, written by Jason Phillips, Elias Hamilton, Abby Auman, and Mickey Poandl, is fully representative of the LGBTQ community. From the writers to the cast to the crew. And while it is sharply funny, it also takes on some of the more difficult times in queer history.

All of it, however, is tempered with the emotional depth and wondrous whimsy that director Dwight Chiles always brings to his productions.

The cast of seven (Rachel Fralick, Luca Hinton, Erin McCarson, Morgan Miller, Adam Olson, Alec Shull, and Quinn Terry) take on multiple roles. Each character was deftly different in more than just a wardrobe change. (Although, Kayren McKnight’s costumes are inspired!)

The actors cast in this show have the opportunity to illustrate their extraordinary skills. Physical humor, emotional range, and comedic timing and delivery. Since director Dwight Chiles always infuses his shows with music, the audience is also treated to the impressive vocals of Rachel Fralick (who accompanies herself on guitar and “mouth horn”), Quinn Terry, and Morgan Miller.

Abby Auman was not only one of the four playwrights but also created the atmosphere with her gorgeous, decades-spanning lighting design.

The previous production at The Magnetic Theatre was Auman’s The Splatter Play. That set, constructed and designed by Tyler Johnson and Amanda Brown, was reutilized for New Queer’s Eve. Amanda Brown’s eye for detail transformed it into an entirely new space.

I admit, I have been looking forward to this show since its first announcement last spring. I knew it would be something I would want to see because I knew the people involved would each give their all to anything they worked on.

However, I was not anticipating the awe and joy. The heartbreak and humor, and the overwhelming, powerful, gut-wrenching inspiration.

New Queer’s Eve runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m., with the final show on Saturday, December 16th.

Elf: The Musical Is like Stepping into a Living Snow Globe!

On Friday, December 1st, I stepped into the magical snow globe that was Asheville Community Theatre’s Elf: The Musical. And like Buddy the Elf, I smiled for two hours straight.

From the moment Abby Auman’s dancing light show began, I felt myself being transported to a physical representation of the holiday spirit.

When I arrived in that miraculous world, Jillian Summers’ fantastic 1960s set and Ida Bostian’s whimsically wonderful costumes assured me that I had landed in the right place.

While the musical is based on the film of the same name, there are some differences, including the addition of strong, memorable songs.

Songs that the large ensemble cast belted out like Broadway stars with the assistance of music director Kristen Johnson Dominguez.

Of course, what’s a musical without dancing? Choreographer Jessica Garland Lowe made sure that was covered. The numbers hit all the right spots. From the imaginative way the elves “danced” to the frenzied moments of Buddy’s misadventures and everything in between, I was entranced and amazed by the footwork I saw.

Lest you think these highly skilled performers only sing and dance, I assure you that their acting was top-tier as well.

They had it all, and they gave it all to the audience. Director Mark Jones has once again taken a well-known work and given it a spark, a twist, and a new life, making it a must-see event. Creating a show for everyone who wants to immerse themselves in the wonder and joy of the holiday season.

Asheville Community Theatre’s Elf: The Musical runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. The final show is Saturday, December 23rd.

The December 10th and 11th performances will have descriptive audio, and the December 17th show will have an ASL interpreter!