The Land of Forgotten Toys has forgettable songs, but a charming story | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

The Land of Forgotten Toys has forgettable songs, but a charming story 

A young girl must save Christmas in this new family musical.

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click to enlarge The Land of Forgotten Toys

The Land of Forgotten Toys

Zeke Dolezalek

This original Christmas show (story by Larry Little, music by Dylan MarcAurele, book and lyrics by Jaclyn Enchin and Jennifer Enchin, with additional lyrics by Mike Ross) is no worse, and no better, than your average holiday children's fare. The story, charming and silly, follows Joseph Campbell's hero's journey: a young woman, unhappy with her dreary life, is transported to another world where she performs a heroic deed (saving Santa Claus), before she returns to the ordinary world, changed by her experiences.

It also contains echoes of other, earlier, stories: The Wizard of Oz, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Wrinkle in Time. This colorful and energetic production, directed by Nicholas Reinhart, is packed with strong performances from a cast of young newcomers (most of them bright-eyed adolescents) and veterans. The songs by MarcAurele, Enchin, and Enchin are lively, though forgettable, and the pace of the show never flags. And even when the story gets preposterous (as when Santa must be saved from a candy-cane jail), the show remains amusing to both children (who gave the show their full attention the day I caught it) and harder-to-please adults. Bre Jacobs is quite winning as the show's protagonist, Grace. And Liz Norton brings a bit of Cruella de Vil-style camp to her renditions of the show's twin antagonists, Grace's sour, Christmas-hating Aunt Charlotte, and the evil Santa kidnapper, Charlotta.  v

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