EAST YORK, ON (TheBadgerCA) – A near perfect evening of theatre was on display Monday night at St. Etienne Elementary as Sister Adani’s First Grade class took the stage to perform the annual nativity for parents and friends alike in the cramped elementary school auditorium.
Every stackable chair was filled for this event, starring Taylor Baines, 7, in the role of Joseph, the husband of Mary, played to perfection by Cortlyn Hennessey, 6. Baines commanded the stage at the onset, evoking the works of many thespians before him announcing to the audience and Hennessey at the top of his lungs that “There is no room at the inn!” Hennessey showed true ownership of her acting craft, showing her focus in the role of the mother of Christ, bowing her head subtlety to acknowledge the couple’s setback. Both actors manifest their months of experience depicting a couple looking for shelter and weighed down by the burden of the forthcoming census, taxation and pending birth. As Hennessey gathered herself and called to Baines’s Joseph “Maybe we could stable in the stable…stay in the stable”, correcting her line, though almost certainly showing Mary’s ability to be flustered in her delicate condition.The performance to this point had been delivered perfectly, with Bryce Callows in the role of the Innkeeper directing the couple to the stables behind the inn with almost DeNiro-like timing and poise. However, once the story turned towards the manger scene, all professionalism bled from the show like so much Christmas dinner gravy. Hennessey and Baines attempted to create the birth of Christ the Saviour in a tour-de-force performance that would have had all gathered tearing up at the sight.
This performance, and the show as a whole, was undermined by the performance of Hayden Smythe, 6, in the role of ‘Sheep #2’. Smythe chewed the scenery, not engaging the scene or assisting his fellow actors in announcing the birth of the baby Jesus. Smythe performed like he hadn’t ever heard the Nativity story, spending his time picking his nose and wiping the mucous on the sleeve of his sheep costume. He then pulled the corners of his mouth wide while sticking his tongue out at the audience repeatedly, an action not performed by sheep and not appearing in the script.
Director of the play Sister Adani had no comment as to the specifics of Smythe’s shocking performance that marred the production but insisted that his acting was never performed as such in any rehearsal.
No further performances are scheduled but videos of the show are available upon request for the nominal fee of $5.00.