Theater reviewer Nona Nelson had a grand time at Attic Productions’ “The Christmas Express.” Did you see it yourself? What did you think?
Review: Take Express; straight to the Christmas spirit
By Nona Nelson
“The Christmas Express” rolled into Fincastle’s D. Geraldine Lawson Performing Arts Center last week, powered by Attic Productions, and bringing with it the kind of holiday glow that gathering around a tree with a cup of eggnog and a plate of warm snickerdoodles inspires.
The sweetly sentimental story, written by playwright Pat Cook and directed for Attic by Peggey Rowland, takes place in the train station of Holly, a depressed small town, in the 1950s. A once-bustling hub of community activity, the tired old station seldom sees a traveler these days, much to the chagrin of the snippy station manager, Hilda Trowbridge, who harbors dreams of escaping Holly for travel to faraway places.
The day before Christmas Eve, she resists urging from Satch, the station’s porter, to spruce up the tired old station with decorations. She only reluctantly agrees to go caroling with the other quirky townsfolk and brings a genuine bah-humbug attitude toward the holiday season.
That changes when a mysterious stranger, Leo Tannenbaum, arrives via an unscheduled train. Tannenbaum has a way of making Satch and the other townies believe that a little hope can go a long way in making their lives better, while the skeptical Hilda questions the stranger’s motives and sanity. Before long, Tannenbaum is working minor miracles in the lives of Holly residents, from decking the halls of the train station to solving the marital discord of a newlywed couple, Jerry and Donna Fay, to giving advice on urban planning.
Besides Tannenbaum’s contagious optimism infecting everyone around her, pessimistic Hilda has other things to worry about. Mr. Fairfax, an auditor sent from the railroad, is taking an inventory of the sparsely furnished station, a move she is convinced means the railroad is about to close the station right after Christmas.