ADA — The Wednesday night crowd was treated to a lovely time as ACT II performed "Papa's Angels." While there were a couple of opening night fumbles, none spoiled the overall heartwarming enjoyment of this charming Christmas play.
"Papa's Angels" is about the Jenkins clan, a poor family in the North Carolina Mountains in 1935. After suffering a terrible tragedy, the Jenkins children come together and save the heart of their family. They do this with equal amounts of spunk, humor and joy.
Speaking of joy, Joy Crabtree is a wonder as the long-suffering Momma Jenkins. Her beautiful singing voice and tenderness toward her children set the tone for the whole production.
Josh Warmuth (Papa Jenkins) had a chance to show his dramatic talents, particularly in a surprising scene when he confronts the principal and the local town bully.
The whole Warmuth family must be talented as Karlie Warmuth plays the mute daughter Becca Jenkins. Her expressiveness and charm portrayed a difficult part well.
Another talented brother-sister team, Meagan and Nathan Wright, add their precocious abilities to the production as Maude and Alvin Jenkins. His heartfelt reaction to his mother's death touched me.
Caroline Harris is an absolute joy as the tomboy Hannah Rose Jenkins. Her spunk and tenaciousness are the glue that holds the family together.
Chase Berning does a great job as John Neal Jenkins. Berning's interaction with his strange stuffed animal was funny and ultimately touching.
Valerie Cope (Grammy Jenkins) provided a nice touch of family continuity and yuletide lore. Cope's character had to be one of the more interesting ones in the play.
While there are many other children on stage, two others stand out in particular. Barrick Jack, as the bully Ludlow Wacky Jr., and Mia Bentel, as the schoolyard gossip Ada Passmore, are great fun.
The other adults and children in the play keep the story alive. The entire cast looks like they're having a good time and approach the play with enthusiasm and energy. You can't help up but get swept up in their fun.
Director Kyra Childers doesn't let the play lag. I confess to being surprised at how dark the theme of the play was in places, but that only made the eventual success of the Jenkins family all the brighter.
A minor quibble: I would have appreciated more volume from some of the children and a couple of the adults, but that may have more to do with the age of my ears than their voices.
While this doesn't have anything to do with the play itself, I appreciated the decorations in the lobby. Someone put out much effort to welcome the audience with the sights of Christmas.
"Papa's Angels" plays through Sunday. It's good Christmas entertainment for the whole family. I recommend it.