Swansea song

Miners Alley visits a Christmas of yore

Gary Zeidner | Boulder Weekly

It’s been 10 months since I last reviewed a show at the Miners Alley Playhouse in downtown Golden. Unlike Courtney Love or the majority of the Baldwin brothers, time has been kind to Miners Alley.

A new mural, both attractive and functional, adorns their lobby wall. And now, rather than patrons having to make a mad dash for the best seats as in the general admission days, Miners Alley offers reserved seating. Huzzah!

But don’t let the luxury of reserved seating keep you from arriving early and enjoying Miners Alley’s comfortable lounge area complete with full bar and local art for sale. With winter’s chill finally in the air, a glass of homemade eggnog — with or without rum — is a most efficacious way to warm your bones and relax prior to a viewing of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Though barely 25 minutes away, Golden retains a small-town sensibility lost in Boulder decades ago. On the night I saw A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Main Street was celebrating the holidays with a candlelight walk. A four-piece brass band on one corner played Christmas standards. A few blocks away, carolers serenaded the small throng of people, candles in hand, ambling down the street beneath the town arch festooned with Santa and his sleigh. Gingerbread men danced and a local shopkeeper stood at her door, offering wassail to passersby.

This unpretentious holiday gathering dovetailed beautifully with the experience of seeing A Child’s Christmas in Wales for the first time. Based on Dylan Thomas’ recollections of childhood Christmases in the working-class, seaside town of Swansea, A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a heartfelt, musical ode to Christmas, family, youth and times gone by.

In many ways, A Child’s Christmas in Wales reminded me just how much has changed — and not necessarily for the better — about how we experience Christmas. In the time of the play, a snow globe or squirt gun was the acme of gifts, and more to the point, the prepubescent Thomas’ wishes to Father Christmas didn’t overreach or presuppose any sense of entitlement.

In one of the best scenes in A Child’s Christmas in Wales, the postman gives lyrical thanks for the warm libations awaiting him at each house on his route. Can you imagine not only knowing your postman (or as he or she might be called today, your mail delivery specialist) by name but welcoming him into your home every Christmas Eve and putting a warm glass of spiked eggnog or cider in his cold, chapped hands? More so, can you imagine that same postman’s boss, as well as everyone else in the community, not batting an eyelash at the fact that he was con siderably more than half-sauced by the time he made his final delivery?

With no electricity to power television or radio, the time after Christmas dinner was spent by adults and children alike sharing ghost stories, tall tales and singalongs. When I was a child in much more modern times, we told no such tales nor sang along with one another, but we would still have a reading of The Night Before Christmas in that twilight time of Christmas Eve. I doubt that many families even do that any longer, and at the risk of sounding irretrievably old-fashioned, might we not benefit from more familial interaction on Christmas (and, for that matter, the rest of the year)?

As different as some aspects of Christmastime are from Thomas’ childhood to today, A Child’s Christmas in Wales reminds us that many things remain remarkably the same. One only sees certain distant aunts and uncles on Christmas, and those who are quirky, sullen or hypochondriacs are gossiped about just as much today as they were then. The prize of most Christmas dinners, the fat, juicy turkey, remains in as much jeopardy of overcooking today as it did when humans were switching over from wood-fired to gas-powered ovens. And the time between dinner and opening presents is as much as ever a time for some to toil cleaning dishes in the kitchen while others doze indolently in the living room.

Miners Alley’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a touching tribute to Christmas and family. Whether you’re short of or overflowing with holiday spirit, this show will stir memories and send you back out into the world with cheer in your heart.

On the Bill

A Child’s Christmas in Wales runs
Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 22 at Miners Alley Playhouse.
Tickets start at $19. For more information, visit www.minersalley.com,
or call 303-935-3044. 1224 Washington Ave., Ste. 200, Golden.

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