The Actors Theater of Minnesota is again staging Fezziwig’s Feast at the Wigington Pavilion on Harriet Island this month, and I attended one of the performances. I also had the opportunity to see It’s A Wonderful Life at the Saint Paul Hotel with my son Jay. Each holiday show revisits a familiar story with a new twist and includes dinner served throughout the evening. If you have to make a choice I would recommend going with the story that you want to see, because each provides a very enjoyable evening.
Fezziwig’s Feast finds the audience attending dinner with the employees and the family of Mr. and Mrs Fezziwig, who are excited to act out a story about Christmas ghosts written by the Fezziwigs’ good friend Charles Dickens. The Fezziwigs make the rounds as guests arrive, welcoming and joking with their guests. Traditional Christmas carols are served up with each course during breaks in the performance. The large open space works well for this show, since we are to feel that we are at the Fezziwigs’ place of business. Minimal sets are pushed aside when not in use, and the costuming is simple. The relaxed feeling allows the audience to also sit back and enjoy the show. John Middleton as Ebenezer Scrooge and Scott Jorgenson as Mr. Fezziwig play their roles with enthusiasm and an obvious appreciation of the tale they have been asked to tell.
One of the highlights for me is the interaction between Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. The Fezziwigs as written in A Christmas Carol are a high-spirited couple who are very much in love and proud of their family and their employees. Mrs. Fezziwig has the job of interrupting the telling of the tale to make sure that the meal is served, at one point gleefully announcing that the “pudding is done” and needed to be served immediately.
The meal is very good; the company does a great job of serving a large group in a limited time. The seven-course meal starts with salad and appetizers and finishes with the promised bread pudding. We were seated at a table of eight and it was enjoyable to meet our tablemates and share the fun of the evening. One of the couples I met were attending Fezziwig’s Feast for their 10th year.
I think I enjoyed this show so much because of the wonderful setting and the feeling that we truly were welcome guests. As a bonus we have the telling of A Christmas Carol and learn again the true meaning of Christmas. If you think it is time to try a new holiday show I would encourage you to try Fezziwig’s Feast: a mingling of the old and the new.
|This production is featured in the Daily Planet’s complete guide to holiday theater. Throughout the holiday season, the guide will be updated with links to new Daily Planet reviews—so you’ll know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.|
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