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REVIEW: Miracle at Christmas Lake‘s Joyous Return (Yellow Tree Theatre)

Mary Fox, Miriam Monasch, Ryan Nelson, Jessie Rae Rayle, and Jason Peterson in Yellow Tree Theatre’s production of Miracle at Christmas Lake. Photo by Justin Cox.

The first year that Yellow Tree opened, it lost its rights to its planned holiday show and theatre co-founder Jessica Lind wrote an original show, Miracle on Christmas Lake, to take its place. I saw the original show and reviewed it in 2010; eight years later, I find the show is more frantic and funnier than I remembered.

In the just-closed production in Osseo, MN, Director Jayson Peterson and a talented cast went for the comedic jugular, a gamble that paid off with constant laughs. Ryan Robert Nelson (now a regular with Brave New Workshop) reprised his original role of Neil Gunderson, a piano tuner with ambitions of method acting including a surprisingly apt Marlon Brando impression. Also returning from the original cast was Jessie Rae Rayle, whose Carol Burnett-style of overacting made hilarious fodder as her character’s repressed sexual desire for Neil slipped through. Miriam Monasch also heightened the play’s intensity, playing a local wealthy arts patron who pushes her way into a major role. In the show that I attended, Ryan Lear and Mary Fox did a great job of playing the straight roles that the three main zany characters get to bounce off of.

Mary Fox and Jessie Rae Rayle in Miracle at Christmas Lake. Photo by Justin Cox.

As much fun as Miracle is, the sequel Miracle on Christmas Lake II is even better. A revival of the sequel by Yellow Tree would be a very welcome calendar addition next year.

It should be noted that in a recent Star Tribune article on the most comfortable seating in local theatres, there was no mention of Yellow Tree Theatre. In terms of width of chair, leg room, and elevated seating, Yellow Tree Theatre’s yard lounge chairs are the most comfortable theatre seating in the Minneapolis-St. Paul theatre scene.

Yellow Tree Theatre’s production of Miracle on Christmas Lake in Osseo, MN closed December 30, 2018.

Bev Wolfe