The magic of memory brings heartwarming-yet-honest stories of Christmas to the stage in “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” opening Friday at the University of Idaho in Moscow.
The show is based on Dylan Thomas’ poetic work, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” which he wrote for radio broadcast during the last few weeks of his life. In portraying scenes from Thomas’ Welsh childhood, audiences will be reminded of their own holiday memories.
“It brings up all those beautiful Christmas stories that we all share,” said Ricky J. Martinez, director and Florida-based guest artist.
While the reflections come from a seasoned adult perspective, the jumps back and forth in time bring the joy of the moment alive to all ages. This feel-good family show floats from scene to scene in an almost childlike fashion, Martinez said. When Thomas thinks of a tangerine, for example, he goes into his memories of tangerines at Christmas.
That the Thomas family is so traditionally Welsh adds an element of humor to the show, Martinez said. Still, there is a sense of familiarity in the mannerisms and traditions — even for Martinez, a self-described cultural “smorgasbord” with a Cuban American background.
“This is totally my family at the holidays,” he said.
Alongside the humor and joy is what Martinez describes as a “humanness.” The holiday memories glow, but are not sugar-coated; the happy times lay alongside the sad, and the characters bear depth and authenticity.
The show is punctuated by familiar Christmas songs whose lyrics have been changed to reflect the memories of the moment. A hymn of worship, for example, might divert from religious celebration to extolling the virtues of peppermint candy — like a child might who is caught up in a moment of anticipation.
The combination of elements brings the message of the holidays.
“It has themes of peace, of redemption, of what is sacred to a family, and the warmth of being with a group,” Martinez said.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Dec. 7 and 9; 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Dec. 10
WHERE: Hartung Theater, University of Idaho campus, Moscow
COST: General admission $15; UI faculty, staff and people 55 and older $10; children 12 and younger $5; UI students free. Tickets are available at the door while supplies last or in advance at BookPeople of Moscow, Shoup Hall room 201 or by calling (208) 885-6465.