t'd be difficult to find a more entertaining or thoughtful holiday offering than 2000 Candles, Brookstone Performing Arts' examination of the season's significance -- and in some cases, over-significance.Conceived by Dennis Hassell and developed and directed by Tom Carson, the family show deconstructs Christmas's history, from the controversy surrounding the date of Jesus' birth to the origin of Santa Claus, mistletoe and festive phrases like "'Tis the season to be jolly."
Performed by a versatile quartet (Ins Choi, Jeanine Noyes, Richard Peters and Tracy Thomas) who are asked to sing, act and play instruments -- one minute they're a bluegrass band, the next they're a gospel choir -- the show's individual pieces are well-rounded, fluid and always theatrical.
Carson avoids the predictable. A sensual and almost erotic sequence about the joys of holiday eating and drinking, for instance, doesn't lead to a sermon on gluttony and excess. And Jeanine Noyes's arrangements of songs old, new and from different cultures are revelatory.
Moving but never sentimental, the show is that rare thing -- a holiday offering whose spirit and message should last the other eleven months of the year.
2000 CANDLES developed and directed by Tom Carson, conceived by Dennis Hassell, with Ins Choi, Jeanine Noyes, Richard Peters and Tracy Thomas. Presented by Brookstone Performing Arts at Elmore's Hall (1881/2 Lowther). Runs to January 6, Wednesday-Saturday 8 pm, various matinees. $19-$25. 922-1238. Rating: NNNN