"The Christmas Express
Buck Creek Players
Directed by Ken Kern
Through Dec. 17
The Christmas Express is a quaint story about a small-town train station on the verge of extinction. The town’s residents have watched people move away and shops close down, and the next logical step is for the train station to shut down. Consequently, station manager Hilda (Nikki Hunter) is far from being in the Christmas spirit. It’s three days before Christmas and she is the Grinch without his catch phrase.
When two strangers show up at the station — one with a seemingly magic touch and the other with a vacant stare — Hilda doesn’t trust them, sure that one is a con artist and the other is here to shut the station down. No matter how helpful Leo (Michael M. Jones) is or how harmless Mr. Fairfax (Martin Hinman) seems, Hilda’s doom and gloom attitude only worsens.
The show is chock full of other interesting characters, as well: not too bright but well-meaning station-hand Satch (Mike Tapp), smart-minded mailwoman Maggie (Kathi M. Hoffmeister), busybody newspaper woman Penelope (Kate Hinman), organizer Myrna (Debbie Jones) and quarreling newlyweds Donna Fay and Jerry (Denise Rush and Ray Gron).
While a talkative show, the ensemble makes it an enjoyable trip. Each character has substance enough to quickly draw you into the small-town lifestyle. And, since this is a Christmas show, Hilda’s attitude reversal is inevitable, and getting there is a grand time. Tangents and character quirks are what keep this show interesting and the cast does great work in bringing out those nuances. Director Ken Kern sets a quick pace — there is always something going on.
Check out the set: Buck Creek was loaned authentic antiques to flesh out the train station in true 1950s style.
The Christmas Express continues through this weekend only at Buck Creek Players, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 15-16 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is just $13; $11 for students and senior citizens. Call the theater, 11150 Southeastern Ave., at 317-862-2270 for reservations.