Santa, Smiles & Souvenirs

Clara and I officially declared it “Girls’ Night Out” on Saturday. After stopping in at a friend’s annual Christmas ornament painting party, we headed to the Northwest side to see “A Beef & Boards Christmas.”

Clara and I have our B&B experiences down to a routine now. It’s the perfect mother-daughter outing for us – a lovely buffet dinner (she always loads up on eggs and bacon in the salad bar), a glass wine for me and a dish of rainbow sherbet for her, a great show, and the chance afterwards to visit with theatre friends who fuss over my sometimes-shy girl and give her the “VIP” treatment.

Clara is only seven, but she was an amazingly captive audience. Her favorite moments (and mine) involved the youngest cast members, Olivia McKenna and Ethan Holder, back for a second year in this show. They blew everyone away with their charming personalities and awesome voices. As I watched the little duo perform “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” I kept waiting for them to come apart, between the ping-ponging melodies and complicated choreography. Nope. They were rock solid. I can only imagine how proud their parents must be.

We loved it when Santa himself stopped by our table and handed Clara a peppermint. It’s a variety show that offers the widest kind of holiday variety you could imagine: I found myself at one point really envious of the dancers’ great legs (“Her skirt is SO short you can see her undies!” Clara noted). And Clara and I both wished her big brother could have seen a stage full of Raggedy Anns and Andys busting into the infamous “Gangdom Style” dance that has taken over youtube.

I also found myself at other points fighting tears. Sarah Hund’s violin rendition of Silent Night was just beautiful. And when my beautiful friend, dancer/singer/hostess Deb Wims, invited all the veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized during the military portion of the show, I got a huge lump in my throat as I looked around the room. This is the 15th year that Deb has been involved in this show, along with co-host Kenny Shepard. He is no relation, but we love to pick on each other for “misspelling” our last name. Deb and Kenny are such a great pair on stage that many, including Clara, have wondered if they are a pair offstage as well? (No, they are not, just great friends.)

My only real complaint about the show was that I wanted to hear more powerhouse vocals, especially from my friend John Vessels. I told him so afterwards. His comedic bits in the show were hilarious! But I just wanted more of his rafter-ringing voice.

Clara’s only complaint was that she wanted to spend more cash in the gift shop. She spent every one of the six dollars in her little wallet, and a couple of mine. She took home a tiny dog (or is it a bear? We can’t really tell…) in a tiny purse, and a fancy nail file.

As she snuggled into bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in her head, I gave thanks for a great night with a girl still young enough to wonder if the jolly, bearded man who handed her a mint is indeed, the real Santa.

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