Over the years, I've had the pleasure of seeing a number of productions presented by the New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI), presently housed at Russell Sage College. It had been a few years since I'd seen a NYSTI production, but with a buy 1, get 1 free coupon in hand, I took my girlfriend along for a matinee performance of this year's Christmas production, "King Island Christmas".
"King" is a musical whose story is told almost entirely in song, one number right after the other in rapid-fire fashion. There is very little spoken dialogue, and virtually the entire cast, as a result, is on stage the entire time. Based on true events in Alaska in the 50's, "King" tells the story of the island community awaiting the arrival of a priest to perform a church service at Christmas. Time flies by, figuratively and literally, as the production clocks in at a tidy, speedy 80 minutes.
To single out one member of the cast would be unfair to others, so I will simply say that everyone involved delivered a very strong performance. And despite the setting, no subtle references to a certain ex-governor who's currently peddling a book about her first brush with fame a year ago, among other topics. If you have a theatre group in your area is looking for a fresh presentation for the holiday season, I would recommend mounting a production of "King Island", based on the book by Jean Rogers. Grade: A.