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Photo courtesy of TheaterWorks Hartford.

Arts and Culture

“Christmas On The Rocks” Returns With a New Spin

HARTFORD—TheaterWorks Hartford’s annual Christmas On The Rocks returns for its 11th anniversary this winter with a brand new story that expands this offbeat collection of retold holiday tales, starring Harry Bouvy, Jen Cody, and Richard Kline—making his TheaterWorks Hartford debut as the “bartender”.

Developed and directed by Producing Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero, this Connecticut holiday tradition of twisted Christmas tales premiers on November 29 and runs through December 23. 

Richard Kline, known as ‘Larry’ on the classic sitcom Three’s Company, was in The Barrington Stage Co production of Cabaret this past summer. Photo courtesy of TheaterWorks Hartford.

“I grew up watching Three’s Company, so it’s especially great to have Richard ‘behind the bar’ this year!” Ruggiero said in a press release. “His work on the series, as well as in many sitcoms that defined my childhood, shows he has the craft and sense of humor to bring something new and exciting to the role.”

Christmas On The Rocks is a collaboration of seven playwrights—Judy Gold, Jeffrey Hatcher, Jenn Harris, Jacques Lamarre, Edwin Sánchez, and Matthew Wilkas. The holiday parody follows a bartender at a local dive bar working on Christmas Eve. He’s surprised by a busy night when a series of unexpected guests walk in: children from our favorite Christmas specials and movies now all grown up. 

Barbie’s “Midge” Joins This Year’s Performance

Award-winning Playwright Edwin Sánchez co-wrote the performance’s latest addition, “A Smidge of Midge”, with Jacques Lamarre for this winter’s show, inviting another nostalgic character to this eccentric holiday reunion. Sánchez and Lamarre give a new perspective on the controversy that has followed Barbie’s best friend, Midge. She was discontinued after Mattel created a version of the doll that was pregnant, which angered parents who said that the doll was promoting teen pregnancy and was a “bad role model”, Sánchez explained. 

“We bring in Midge, who’s pregnant, and she’s been disinvited to the Barbie Holiday Spectacular but she’s still the most optimistic doll on the planet,” Sánchez said in a phone call. “It’s her having the baby, finally having something of her own, because everything belongs to Barbie and Barbie World. So, it’s how Midge finally has the baby and finally has something that is uniquely hers.”

A Holiday Performance of Comedic Relief and Nostalgic Solace

Sánchez also wrote one of the original playlets—“Still Nuts About Him”—in Christmas On The Rocks. The scene follows the Nutcracker’s grown-up Clara as she reaches her breaking point one Christmas Eve as she processes the harsh realities of aging and heartache over her marriage with the Nutcracker. Much of Sánchez’s work—like La Bella Familia, which won the 2011 National Latino Playwriting Award—explores dark and emotional themes within complex characters, and Clara is no exception. 

“My plays are usually on the darker side. Even the Nutcracker one has its darkness to it, for all the humor, it has darkness. We’re trying to take short Christmas stories and sort of spin them on their head. The characters are funny but they’re depressed too. So, it’s trying to find a balance between the two things,” Sánchez said. “I still managed to keep me in there. I mean, Clara, it’s lighthearted and…it’s funny but it is a woman going through a nervous breakdown.”

Christmas On The Rocks looks to provide audience members comedic relief and nostalgic solace during the holiday season, Sánchez explained.

“The scenes are very funny and there’s still heart at the end of it. For all the humor, there was heart, but it’s not your typical Christmas play. That’s for sure,” he said.

Learn more about the performance and purchase tickets at twhartford.org or by calling 860-527-7838. The show runs for 100 minutes with no intermission.


Publisher’s Notes: CT Latino News is proud to partner with TheaterWorks Hartford in supporting the state’s Arts and Culture. 

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