As the radio announcer counts down, guests at Swift Creek Mill Theatre join the show. During A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol, attendees become the live audience for a radio broadcast staged on Christmas Eve 1943.
Once again, Swift Creek’s actors deliver on-stage shenanigans grounded in solid musical talent. The a capella carols are beautifully harmonized and presented with piano accompaniment. But there’s a surprising element in this nostalgic (and comedic!) holiday show: The radio audience sees what’s going on backstage. No one works harder than the radio show’s “sound effecticians” who deliver nonstop sound effects. Using every prop imaginable – from kitchen gadgets and fans, to coconut shells and their voices – the backstage hands work like warp-speed robots to keep up with the show. Adding just the right crash, clatter, or echoing reverberation at just the right moment, they bring-to-life ole-time radio. The sound effects are especially creative during “The Christmas Carol” audio re-enactment … though I fear Dickens may haunt the artistic director for his license!
Swift Creek demonstrates talent of another kind, too: The new food and beverage director’s seasonal buffet features local edibles deliciously prepared on site. Though the menu may vary, the autumn-squash soup was perfected with hints of nutmeg, and the swanky mac ‘n cheese paired well with the southern-style salmon cake and herb-crusted pork loin. Forgive me for also mentioning Mike’s famous cornbread (think spoonbread consistency with lathered butter) and the pickled watermelon rind (when’s the last time you enjoyed that delicacy?). The historic site’s dining room adjoins an open bar. Along with a decent wine list, there are holiday specials like Jack Frost (a brilliant-blue concoction) and Dirty Snowman (cocoa and peppermint schnapps dolloped with rich whipped cream).
A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol continues at Swift Creek Mill Playhouse in Colonial Heights through January 5. Info, tickets, and dining reservations are available at Swift Creek Mill or (804) 748-5203. Gift certificates are available, too.