There will always be room for enlightened misers and funny elves, but it’s nice to have something a little different for holiday theater. With “The Christmas Bride,” which opened Thursday night, we have not only a musical in its New England premiere, but one presented by a new theater company.

Anyone inclined to get nervous about newness should not worry. It’s still a show based on a story by Charles Dickens.

Snowlion Repertory Company co-founder Margit Ahlin, who writes under the name MK Wolfe, authored the show along with composer Noel Katz. It feels a little like it belongs in a bigger venue, with its strong Broadway-style songs, many performed by ensembles that fill the smallish Lucid Stage theater with sound.

Nevertheless, this new company and its new-to-the-area show represent a welcome gift for this holiday season.

Marissa Sheltra takes the lead role as a young bride-to-be whose doubts about the groom become overwhelming when she meets a handsome stranger who sets her heart to “Fluttering,” as one of her best solos is titled. Sheltra revealed a fine singing voice in the opening performance and matched it with an expressive style of acting appropriate to the Dickensian storytelling.

Fran Page and Brian McAloon play her suitors — respectively, a traditionalist and a rake. They have a couple of nice duets, as they, unbeknownst to each other, pursue the girl they both believe to be their true love. Elizabeth Lardie, another fine vocalist/actress, wins over one of the two in the end so that all rivalries are eventually resolved in a never-much-in-doubt, feel-good finish.


Bill Vaughan and David Arthur Bachrach have a lot of fun in villainous roles, and Cynthia O’Neil adds some comic touches to her maid, who has romantic plans of her own. William McCue, John Ambrose, Jaymie Chamberlin and Annie O’Brien round out the very good cast.

The sets are minimal, but the period costuming by Desiray Roy is excellent and is shown off particularly well, with lighting by Matthew B. Cost, during a brief dance sequence choreographed by Director Al D’Andrea.

The three-piece orchestra, directed by Jim Colby, features effective variations for keyboard, cello and wind instruments on such holiday-themed tunes as “A British Christmas” and “I’m Happiest at Christmas.”

In terms of good old-fashioned musical theater, this show just about has it all.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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