Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

December 7, 2004 > A Time for Christmas

A Time for Christmas

by Ceri Hitchcock-Hodgson

Get ready to have your heart warmed and your spirits lifted in A Time for Christmas, the current production being performed by the Fremont E.F.C. Drama Team. The play takes the audience on a journey through the history of Christmas while emphasizing the importance of the true meaning of the holiday.

A Time for Christmas opens with the cast on a city street singing the delightful "It's a Merry Christmas Eve," the first of many melodic carols throughout the play. The play opens with the workaholic Bill, played perfectly by Steve Olsen, and his dutiful secretary, Mary, (the vocally gifted Sue Tania Olsen) slaving away on Christmas Eve. Mary, a recent divorcee, would rather be with her daughter and mother at their church's pageant than working on facts and figures. Although her scrooge of a boss begs her to stay, Mary leaves but not before inviting him to spend Christmas dinner with her the following evening. Bill says he is just fine spending Christmas alone in his decoration-barren apartment. His decision not only leaves him with a sullen secretary, it also signals an unexpected guest.

Bill falls asleep while working at his kitchen table and is awoken by Bartholomew, a stranger who knows more about Bill than anyone, proving so by singing the amusing "I Know a Lot of Things." The mysterious Bartholomew (the perfectly cast J Leslie) takes Bill on a journey through Christmas past to teach the lonely businessman about the spirit of the season.

"Bart", as Bill calls his guest, guides him to the first Christmas Eve where they witness the arrival of Jesus Christ. From there, the duo travels to the excessive celebrations of Medieval times when the "spirit of the season was almost forgotten." Next, Bill and his conscious companion travel to a London church in the mid 1600's when Christmas worship was outlawed.

Their next stop takes them to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The scene opens with Amanda Montenegro as one of the orphans performing a sweet rendition of "I Had a Dream." Montenegro also plays Mary's daughter, Jenny. The cast of orphans and the orphanage's "mother", Miss Lewis (the melodious Grace Montenegro), join together in a rousing rendition of "With a Little Bit of Faith", sung with an English accent but only on certain words. While at the orphanage Bill, dressed as Father Christmas, gifts the children with Christmas morning joy. The act of giving has quite an impact on the humbug fellow and his resistance to Christmas begins to fade.

The pair then moves forward through the American 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's where they are greeted by a medley of Christmas carols. They finally arrive in the present at Mary's apartment where she has just returned from the Christmas Eve pageant with her mother and daughter. As Bill watches, Mary talks to her mother about her affection for her uptight boss and then she attempts to assemble Jenny's Christmas toys. Bill calls out to Bartholomew that he now wants to be visible so that he may comfort the frustrated Mary. In a flash of light, Bill is transported back to his apartment on Christmas morning where Mary arrives to coax him, successfully, in to joining her for the true meaning of the day, which is "not just the Christmas spirit but the spirit of Christ."

The Fremont E.F.C. Drama Team put on a lovely performance complete with an impressive stage and colorful costumes. It was evident that each cast member had worker diligently over the past few months to perform a Christmas play worthy of the season.

Eric Borlamg, a student at Mission San Jose High School, has directed the play for the past three years. The cast range in age from four to 58 and have been practicing for the Christmas musical since September.

Featuring music by acclaimed songwriter David Clydesdale, A Time for Christmas is an uplifting tale of how sometimes you just need to open your heart and mind to a higher power in order to see the true meaning of life.

You can also catch the play on December 10 at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, December 11, there will be a matinee at 2p.m., followed by the final performance at 7:30.

Tickets are $8 for front row seating, $6 for the floor and $4 for the balcony. The Evangelical Free Church is located at 505 Driscoll Rd. in Fremont. For more information call (510) 651-2030.

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