Season's Greetings from San Antonio
by The Public Theater
Nov. 19 - Dec. 19, 2021
Article by Jasmina Wellinghoff, editor of ArtsAlive San Antonio (click to go to web posting)
by JASMINA WELLINGHOFF, Editor
When the Public Theater of San Antonio announced its 2021-22 season, the December slot was reserved for “Forever Plaid – Plaid Tidings,” a popular holiday concoction of close harmonies and smooth moves, to be performed by a quartet of men who have been asked to return to earth from their lives in heaven “because they were needed to put a little harmony into a discordant world.”
But not in San Antonio. The Public’s team decided that the Plaids would bring discord rather than harmony, due to a Caribbean segment in the show that might be “a little insulting” to some people, said the theater’s executive & artistic director Claudia de Vasco.
“To be honest, we tried to make it work for a month,” she added. “We said, let’s do ‘Plaid Tiding’ and will just take out those two songs and put in other songs. When we Googled it, we found that other companies also found those songs problematic and they took out the songs. We said, ‘We can do that!’ but we had to do it right by getting a permission from the publisher. Unfortunately, they never got back to us.”
Enterprisingly, several talented local thespians, including de Vasco, put their heads together and came up with a different Christmas show, one that reflects San Antonio, both musically and thematically. Called Season’s Greetings from San Antonio, the show, that opens Friday at the Public, will acknowledge the different ways San Antonians mark the holidays, including Native Americans, Christians of different denominations, Jews and Mexican-Americans.
The new premise was suggested by director Matthew Byron Cassi and music director Darrin Newhardt, and the actual script was written by de Vasco. The format is somewhat similar to “Plaid Tidings” since it features a male a Capella quartet, called, The Dotz, as they perform their televised holiday special of “updated classics, Christmas pop, and seasonal songs from the many cultures that make San Antonio our home,” says the press release. And there will be a new original song about Hanukah as well, noted de Vasco. Most numbers will be sung in English, some will be in Spanish and one in Yiddish.
“What we are really trying to do with this show is to highlight the ways we celebrate the holidays here in San Antonio,” she said. “We are not saying that we are representing every single version of Christmas within the different cultures of San Antonio.”
Between the songs, they will also tell a few stories about holiday experiences, from making cookies to being shunned from familial holiday celebrations due to being gay. These were contributed by members of the community responding to an appeal from the Public.
As the scriptwriter, de Vasco had to integrate all parts of the production into a smooth musical , but she promptly shares the credit. “It was really a collaborative effort,” she noted. “I did the script and then I got feedback from another playwright, then there was editing during the rehearsals; it was definitely a collaborative project. The show is more about the music, and the script takes you on a journey through the music. I tried to connect all those dots.”
Accompanied only by pianist Darrin Newhardt, the four singers are John Berring, Chaz Ingraham, Jeremy Marmolejo and Damien DeShaun Smith.
“Season’s Greetings from San Antonio” opens Friday, Nov. 19 and runs through Dec. 19; Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; tickets must be purchased in advance at www.thepublicsa.org
or call 210-733-7258; masks required; seating capacity is reduced to allow for social distancing.
November 19 - December 19, 2021
800 West Ashby Place
San Antonio, TX, 78212
November 19 - December 19, 2021
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.
The Public Theatre, San Antonio
Tickets $47 general admission, $32 for seniors, military, and students, $17 for youth ages 4 - 12.