Christmas Belles Ring True at Community Theatre

Christmas Belles
Sioux City Community Theatre
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Future Performances: December 13-15.

You may have plenty of time to finish your Christmas shopping, but you’ve only got three days left to catch the Futrelle belles in action at Sioux City Community Theatre.  Honey Raye, Twink, and Frankie Futrelle of Fayro, Texas do their best to hold down the fort (the Tabernacle of the Lamb Church) and pull off the annual Christmas program under what we can generously call less than ideal circumstances.  These include one very pregnant Futrelle, one very incarcerated Futrelle, and one Futrelle with a lot of Palooza (but maybe not enough Bethlehem). 

Honey Raye, in what must have amounted to a pre-play coup, has somehow wrested the position of director of the Christmas program from her predecessor of twenty-seven years.  At one point she confesses, “I always wanted to get my hands on this show.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if Shari Hoelker, who plays Honey Raye, has always wanted to get her hands on this role.  Honey Raye is the star of her own pageant, and Hoelker—adorned at various points with stars and sequins—shines in this production. 

Her sister Frankie, played by Amy Kimbell, doesn’t get as much sparkle but does at least as much work.  Frankie is the sometimes-narrator and the constant-conscience of the family.  We can’t blame her for a lack of Honey’s energy; she’s carrying twins and a family secret that like her unborn children at some point has to come out.  Amy Kimbell and Lance Dake, who plays her husband, are convincing as middle-age parents mustering the strength for round two.  Both the script and the actors’ portrayals keep these characters from descending into caricature.  It would be easy for them to throw up their hands and let the looming prospects overwhelm them, but their not-exactly-blazing optimism convinces—and at times even moves.

Maybe it doesn’t all come together for Honey Raye, but parts of it do.  After they’ve all survived the pageant, Honey admits “That sweet little man just saved my show.”  That sweet little man is Rayerd Chisum.  Ryan Kimbell, who plays Raynerd, may not save the show—you can’t save something that doesn’t need saving—but he does steal a moment a time or two. 

In the end, Christmas Belles is about family, and a family that’s growing.  It’s funny, and if you’re a worrier like Frankie or Dub or their daughter GJ, it makes for a nice distraction.  There are plenty more distractions in store the rest of the season.  Community Theatre has committed itself this year to comedy.  Whether you’re bogged down with work, concerned about your own family, or need to “just forget your inseminating nightmare” (yes, that’s a direct quote), then head down to Community Theatre and check your worries at the door.  But hurry: the play only runs through Sunday

Brendan Todt is a stay-at-home father who hasn’t been part of a theatre production since high school. Recently he’s been thinking a lot about Hamlet, Waiting for Godot, and the weird sounds his sons make. When he’s not making PBJ sandwiches, he might be reading or looking for the next local art event to catch.