The premise of the Mill City Museum’s holiday show, An “Eventually” Christmas, is irresistible: the museum enlisted the reliably funny Joseph Scrimshaw to write a short play based on true stories from the gossipy newsletter of the Washburn-Crosby Company, which formerly milled flour in the building now occupied by the museum. The performance takes place in the museum’s Flour Tower ride, with the audience moving up and down to glimpse different scenes.
The play is set in 1920, in the days leading up to the company’s behemoth holiday party, a day-long affair that took place at the nearby armory. The party had over 4,000 guests, four Santas (to avoid disenchanting children, three of them were designated “Santa’s brothers”), multiple episodes of music and vaudeville entertainment, and sports that included a fat men’s race and a pillow fight.
The title of the play refers to Washburn-Crosby’s longtime advertising slogan, “Eventually…why not now?” (The implication was that eventually you would learn that Washburn-Crosby’s flour was the best, so you might as well just start buying it now.) The plot, which involves the possibility of a marriage proposal that would end a 12-year courtship between two employees (also a true story, duly chronicled in The Eventually News), is no more than a simple machine for dispensing amusing nuggets of historical fact.
|an “eventually” christmas: holidays at the mill, playing through december 27 at the mill city museum. for tickets ($14) and information, see millcitymuseum.org.|
It’s unmistakably a Scrimshaw play—the men chasing each other with pillows will remind you of the screaming nut-wielders in An Inconvenient Squirrel—but it’s also a piece of educational theater staged in a museum; thus, the show is kind of a large-print edition of the Scrimshaw style. All the elements found in Scrimshaw’s other plays are present, but everything’s a little slower, a little safer, and a little louder. The actors have fun with the material, especially Anthony Paul as a painfully awkward tour guide. As the host and high-volume narrator, Richard Rousseau is a bit overbearing; at times, he reminded me of the maniacally jolly Santa from A Christmas Story.
While I won’t recommend you make a special effort to see the show for its theatrical merits, I can say that it’s a unique and entertaining piece of programming that shines a welcome light on the actual lives (and loves) of the thousands of men and women who worked day in and day out at the massive mill. History buffs will have (so to speak) a blast, and fans of Scrimshaw’s brand of brainy but accessible humor will also enjoy taking a trip up the tower.
|This event 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 know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.|