What would you do if everything you knew and believed to be true were suddenly challenged?
This was the thought I left with this past Friday night after watching a stellar opening performance by Oakdale’s own Mike Moon in the Stage 3 Holiday production of “Greetings.”
If being completely honest, I did not know what I was showing up for. Mike and I have been friends for years. We first met over a decade ago when I interviewed him for a local play he was starring in. Through the years our paths continue to cross. We even spent one memory-making summer together during the epic run of Oakdale Community Theater’s Annie in 2010.
What I’ve come to learn and watch from the theatre seats is that Mike is a brilliant actor. It’s always fun to know an actor personally; it gives you true perspective for their talent (in my opinion).
So last Friday, I did not want to know a thing about the play I was going to see. Sure, we had run two pieces about it in our paper prior, but I like surprises and I love theater so why ruin it with preconceived notions?
As we traveled to Stage 3 Theatre in Sonora I asked my ‘Sister-Cuz’ Michelle, what the name of the play was and if it was a Christmas production. When I say I kept my head in the sand, I’m not kidding.
I’m not a theater critic. If I were, I would be a horrible one because I get too emotionally attached to people, generally speaking. I’m a passionate person and recognize the similar characteristic in actors, athletes and artists.
So while I won’t offer criticism as to the brilliance and shortcomings of Tom Dudzick’s Holiday favorite ‘Greetings!’ directed by Jay Newington … I will offer some takeaways which are well worth the ticket price.
Quite simply this production took me pleasantly by surprise. I’m glad I had no idea what I was going to see and in the hopes of sparking curiosity that generates a drive up the hill, I’ll share little of the actual story line.
What I love about Stage 3 as an audience member, is its unique and intimate Black Box setting. Mike was blessed with a theatre voice which is of little need in the small setting, yet helps bring his character of Phil Gorski to its larger than life stature. The production is set around the Christmas holiday, the traditions that brings and the ever popular holiday topic of ‘family.’
That was the most endearing surprise for me as I watched the scenes unfold. The dynamics of family at the Holiday gathering. The quirks and crazy that come with that single word. The baggage the world has yet to see and the way it can be accepted or misunderstood by the outside eye. The love of family through adversity and the conversations that never really happen, yet (in time) need to.
This production was one which brought unsuspected laughter, as well as a shed tear or two. As a parent, watching Mike portray the role of a hardened father weakened to his knees in prayer for the love of his child hit me deep. It was not only believable, it was felt.
The five person ensemble cast did an amazing job taking the audience through the 24-hour journey of a family at Christmas time. The dialogue was both thought-provoking as well as entertaining. Comedic timing was at its best and the entire audience was engaged from beginning to end.
For the curious … those who wonder why is she not telling us what this is about? I will offer the unique Internet tool of Google or you can look in the past two issues of the Oakdale Leader. For those who love the spirit of the holiday, the belief in mankind and maybe something greater, who love a surprise ... buy a ticket. Take a ride up the hill with a friend or loved one and spend two hours sitting in a small theater. I promise you when you leave, your vision will just be slightly different.
“Greetings!” opened at Stage 3 Friday, Nov. 14 and runs until Dec. 21. For information or reservations call the box office at 209-536-1778 or visit Stage3.org.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.