The plot of A Servant's Christmas is not dissimilar to The Sound of Music: a grieving widower loves his children but is overly strict with them, until a servant enters the household bringing joy and light. There's no romance, however, and there's a bit more involved as the newcomer is hiding a secret of her own. No she's not a nun, she's Jewish, in a world where that is not accepted (sadly still the case in some parts of the country and world). Monica "the second girl" soon finds her place with Eric the butler, Frieda the cook, and Miss Pettingill the governess, who seem to be the only friends that young Anne and Richmond have. When their father is away on a business trip over Christmas, the children ask all of the servants to bring a Christmas tradition from their childhood, which puts Monica in an awkward position. But with the help of a surprise visitor from Eric's theater past, Monica is able to tell the family who she really is and be accepted for it.
|the Warner family (photo by Rick Spaulding)
The songs are fun and catchy, with some lovely ballads. The orchestration is particularly effective - just piano (music director David Lohman) and clarinet (Zelda Younger), which in addition to being the best instrument (says the former clarinetist), also brings in an almost Klezmer sound that lends authenticity to Monica's story. Choreographer Tinia Moulder, who also appeared in the play a few decades ago, has brought some fun and lively movement to the piece.
|holiday festivities (photo by Rick Spaulding)
At this time of the year when it seems the world is celebrating Christmas, and at this time in history when anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head once again, A Servants' Christmas tells a story of love and acceptance across religions and traditions. It's a great reminder, in this busy festive season, that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Our Jewish friends, our Muslim friends, people who grew up in different countries or cultures, may have different holidays and traditions that they celebrate that are just as valid and important as those in the dominant culture. But what we have in common is greater than our differences, as the Warner family and their servants learned.