Seattle's Child

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A Very Electric Christmas: Luminous light tells a festive holiday tale

A sweet, funny story that the whole family will love

Seattle Children’s Theatre presents A Very Electric Christmas,” a festive holiday tale told through music, dance and luminous light that is truly unlike anything that has come through SCT of late. Void of dialogue, the spectacle has plenty to say with innovative ways to awe and delight audiences of all ages.

Holiday Magic

Featuring a medley of classic Christmas songs, “A Very Electric Christmas” is very electric indeed. As the room dims, the lights on the stage glow in magnificent, vibrant, neon hues, highlighting in sparing, though nonetheless incredible detail, the characters and props that set an otherwise dark scene. Piercing rays of digital light convey snow flurries; they are so distinct many audience members reach up their hands in the hopes of catching one. The performers jump in and out of light, accentuating their character’s mischievous intent or silly nature.

The props and illuminated figures pop entirely off the stage, and the music employed to tell the story is as feel-good as it gets. There are the usual numbers by artists like Mariah Carey and Nat King Cole, but there are also some nostalgic melodies like “This is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Featuring iconic holiday characters, like nutcracker soldiers armed with candy cane weapons, thieving rodents swiping decorative snowmen and dancing poinsettias bopping to catchy tunes, the production bottles up Christmas spirit into a 75-minute light show extravaganza.

A Journey Home for Christmas

“A Very Electric Christmas” tells the story of a young bird named Max who is separated from his family during their migration south for the winter. A forceful wind veers him off track, and he lands in the wondrous, though unfamiliar, land of the North Pole. (Santa Claus never makes an appearance, but his “Ho Ho Ho” can be heard from off stage.) Scared and alone, Max befriends three dancing, caroling worms who ignore the fact that they are typically the prey in this situation. Instead, they comfort and protect the scared little bird.

His parents are beside themselves with grief as they look everywhere for their little one. In an adorable bit that garnered some of the most laughs of the evening, the mama and papa bird pull out their laptop to reminisce on baby photos of their missing offspring. The production personalizes it for this Seattle venue, pulling out a Seahawks helmet and illuminating a sign for “Public Market Center.”

As the bird’s journey continues, he faces a new threat: a mob-boss Rat King (introduced to the score of “The Godfather” and an ensuing round of adult chuckles) sets his sights on little Max. In the spirit of the season, others come to Max’s defense in a thoughtfully planned and executed show-down that words aren’t always necessary to tell a complete story. Emotions are universal.

Extended Experience

Select shows offer an “Extended Experience” option with ticket purchase, which includes a behind-the-scenes look at the production. New Orleans-based Lightwire Theater was a semi-finalist on “America’s Got Talent” and a finalist on ABC’s “Game of Talents”. They have become internationally known for their brand of “electroluminescent artistry and poignant storytelling.” To witness the system behind the magic would be a fantastic supplement to the performance. They will answer audience questions, demonstrate how the characters move, and explain the incredible “L-Wire light system” that brings the show to life.

At our performance, artistic director Ian Carney gave a small behind-the-scenes look at their performance attire. Though it seems complex and incredibly sophisticated, he pointed out the simple ways in which they transform wires of lights into clearly identifiable objects and creatures. They use everyday things like bicycle helmets, motocross chest protectors as the base for intricate accouterments, and PVC pipes to contain much of the luminous material.

Recommended age

The storyline involving the mischievous rats stealing holiday fare is innocent enough, comparable (and likely inspired by) “The Nutcracker.” However, when the Rat King appears, it becomes a slightly darker show. There is mild violence, or representation of violence, in the final act. Swords, blades and a handheld bazooka-like weapon are employed with ironic humor that adults will enjoy. However, some sensitive viewers may not understand this referential comedy and could be affected by the stage fighting. The Rat King himself is far more disturbing in appearance than his mousy minions and his reign of terror could be frightening for some.

My 3- and 5-year-olds were not particularly perturbed by anything in the show, but they are typically less affected by “scary” elements in theater or film. They were dazzled by the lights, the rotating music and the incredible choreography, but they did begin to lose steam by the midway mark. For these reasons, I would say 6 and up would relish the show more than a younger demographic, though it is certainly a performance that mature toddlers and young children can enjoy.

Know before you go

• The show runs through December 31, with various showtimes spanning the morning and evening.
• Runtime is approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.
• The ASL Interpreted Performance is Saturday, December 9 at 4:30 p.m.
• The Audio Described Performance is Saturday, December 23 at 4:30 p.m.
• The Sensory Friendly/Relaxed Performance is on Sunday, December 17 at 2:30 p.m.
• Seattle Children’s Theatre is located at 201 Thomas Street, Seattle 98109
• Paid garage and street parking are available. Give yourself ample time if there is an event at Climate Pledge Arena.
• Masks are strongly encouraged, but optional.
• Seattle Children’s Theatre is running at full capacity.

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About the Author

Candice McMillan

Candice McMillan has been writing about film for more than 10 years. Since becoming a mom to her two daughters, she’s had to hang up her affinity for horror films, catering to the two smallest critics who prefer shows about rescue dogs and a family of pigs. Candice has degrees in journalism and film critical studies from USC, and her favorite children’s film is a toss-up between “Anastasia” and “A Goofy Movie.”