Written by Erin Tobin
Vanguard University’s Christmas is Here Again is equal parts Wizard of Oz, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Chronicles of Narnia and every claymation, Christmas classic running on repeat during the holiday season. The last one is especially true because this musical is actually based on the 2007 animated Christmas film of the same name, which the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts adapted for the stage for a performance in 2014.
The plot is as expected for a family friendly Christmas tale –often corny and cheesy but ultimately heart-warming and full of love and friendship. It tells the tale of Sophiana, an optimistic young orphan who just believes in the possibility of Christmas –even though she’s growing up in a world that has never even heard of Christmas or Santa Claus. Instead, everyone lives in dread of December 24 because it’s the day “The Dark One” carries off little children. After getting detention for rousing the spirits of her classmates with a little active daydreaming, Sophiana, whose best friend is a stuffed caterpillar, if you need any more indication about her characterization, finds a magic star-shaped wand, which transports her to a winter wonderland. There she meets up with Paul Rocco, an elf. Eventually she learns about Christmas and why no one celebrates it any longer. Apparently an angry elf stole Santa’s magic toy sack (which was made from Baby Jesus’s swaddling clothes – the play does a terrific job of bridging both the religious and secular aspects of the holiday), so she and Paul Rocco agree to get it back, meeting up with a cast of characters along the way.
Ashley Elizabeth delights as Sophiana. She captured the spirit and enthusiasm of the young girl and displaying an enchanting singing voice. Megan Fox, who played the squeaky voiced and charming Paul Rocco, also delivered a standout performance. The pair helped carry the plot through the first act, which was a bit hard to follow, due in part to the background music drowning the actors out. However, when second act began, the play seemed to gain momentum and carried on strong to the end.
Vanguard University has certainly put on another beautiful production. The gorgeous set was accentuated with the use of computer animated backdrops and vibrant costumes. For those who need a break from the Nutcracker or Scrooge’s ghosts, Christmas is Here Again is a decent alternative and perhaps more child friendly.