OFP players slap a little funk on ’12 Days of Christmas’

Olivia Shields, the Partridge... of the pear tree, tries to convince four "calling birds" to step away from their call center to participate in the annual song 12 Days of Christmas in the holiday OFP production of the same name. The show goes live Friday and runs for the next two weekends. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – The nostalgia that traditionally accompanies most renditions of the 12 Days of Christmas gets thrown out the window this weekend.

The Old Fort Players holiday production “The 12 Days of Christmas” goes curtain up starting Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The show will run Friday through Sunday for the next two weeks at the Old Fort Players playhouse at 725 Avenue G.

Showtimes on Friday and Saturday are 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. Sunday shows. The show is produced by Connection Bank and directed by OFP veteran Kelly Shields.

Olivia Shields plays the Christmas Partridge tasked with keeping all the ‘players’ of the annual Christmas song together, but finds planning for the annual song a little rougher than anticipated.

But Shields doesn’t just take a perch and call out for accompaniment, she slaps a little modern funk on the role with help from a blossoming friendship with an aloof steampunk “Swan-a-swimming” in Juniper Strickland.

From left to right: Christmas Hoarder Xander Abel, Partridge Olivia Shields, and a Lord A’ Leaping and Lady Dancing, played by Aaron Greenhalge and Mallory Troutman work up a dress rehearsal for 12 Days of Christmas at the Old Fort Players Wednesday night. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

The swan steps in to lend a helping hand to make sure the partridge upholds the tradition of the song as parents, grand parents, great-grandparents….and great…great…great…great grandparent partridges aren’t disappointed.

Four calling birds are a “hoot” but are tough to wrangle as they staff a call center, while the partridge tries to convince them to be part of the annual song. The birds are played by OFP veteran Jim French, who also MCs a Cow-medy Club, 8-year-old Caris Greenhalge, 8-year old Tate Kafar, and Sunshine Zioui, who’s been in two other OFP shows.

Mallory Troutman and Aaron Greenhalge come to the rescue, albeit a bit shorthanded as they are missing eight more ladies dancing and nine more lords a leaping. But all is not lost as adaptations abound that you don’t want to miss.

Caris Greenhalge and Alex DeSotel play a couple of turtledoves and Rosie Strickland plays the mom of Shields’ partridge. Jadi Zioui is back as a great-grammy partridge and one of the snooty french hens, who actually hail from Paris. The hens find a strange bird in the mix in newcomer Chris Greenhalge.

And as the partridge tries to keep the show together, the antagonist, a Christmas hoarder in horns played nicely by Xander Abel, slips in and throws another wrench at the young bird by swiping decorations and the coveted five golden rings. Abel has been in more than a dozen OFP youth, summer and adult productions.

While the mayhem of keeping the annual song together escalates, a group of about five mice peak and poke cutely around the set played by Elise Greenhalge, Allena Kellum, Jaxson Kellum, Lainey Schuelka, and Iley Troutman.

The partridge comes into her own as her swinging, swimming swan friend convinces her all is not lost and a “new” song can become part of the holiday tradition.

Richar Abel is the assistant director and a full crew has set up a colorful, festive production that is perfect for all audiences. As the song represents gifts of the days of the holiday, the show is a gift for all that like community theater.

Tickets are available now at www.oldfortplayers.com, just click the Book Now button, or at the playhouse prior to showtimes. Don’t forget a little extra for snacks and beverages.

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