Saturday morning I had the pleasure of taking two of my children to Derby Dinner Playhouse to see the world premiere of "A Velveteen Rabbit Christmas." As part of their Children's Musical Theater series, this play is a must see this holiday season.
I have always liked the story of the velveteen rabbit. It's sweet. I had never thought of it as the "original Toy Story" but it really is and to see it come to life on stage was magical. This production was written especially for the Derby Dinner Playhouse audience by Matt and Tina Jo Wallace. Music was composed by Scott Bradley, Derby Dinner Playhouse Musical Director.
This production exceeded my expectations. I have seen several shows at Derby Dinner and they always do a wonderful job. I was curious how they would pull off the whole stuffed rabbit is real idea. Let me say, they did it and I even teared up at the end. I followed the story, used my imagination and felt the emotions right along with the characters. The show flowed pretty well, the cast had good chemistry and costumes were well suited to the story.
I am not going to give a full play by play, you need to see this for yourself. But, the musical begins with Santa Claus reading letters from children who want anything from "baseballs to limousines." Santa takes us back to 1921 and introduces Oliver and his Christmas that particular year. I love that the music is provided during the whole production by a single piano player on stage (Ron Breedlove), dressed for the time period. It adds an intimate touch to the playhouse.
Oliver opens his gifts and plays with a velveteen rabbit, who is made fun of my the other toys for being full of sawdust. Through the song "Real", nursery magic is explained. Toys may become real and that is a special gift. Oliver plays with Rabbit all the time and takes him everywhere. Over time Rabbit begins look worn. As the story goes, Oliver comes down with scarlet fever and everything in his room has to be destroyed. Even Rabbit. This story does have a happy ending and as Santa Claus is getting ready to start delivering gifts again on this next Christmas Eve, Oliver sings "bring a gift of love to me."
My kids loved it. At ages three and six they paid attention, participated when appropriate and laughed. Prior to the show Santa and Mrs. Claus carefully visited each table with a small gift and made time for a photo if you wanted to take one.
The playhouse has already decked the halls and was in character for the Christmas season. The decorations are beautiful and not overdone. The gift shop is stocked with the usual general merchandise and added items for Christmas, lots of ornaments, and light up toys for kids.
The breakfast buffet was good as always, stocked with a selection of hot breakfast foods including eggs, biscuits and gravy, ham and french toast sticks. The food is kept at a good temperature and is true to the advertised "kid friendly menu."
All public performances of A Velveteen Rabbit Christmas are on Saturdays with breakfast at 9:00am and lunch at noon. Two performances are also available on Friday, November 25th. For more information visit: or call 812-288-8281.
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