Monday, December 16, 2013


Jimmy Johansmeyer, Dani Corrigan, Ryan Eggensperger, Carter Popkin

What could be sweeter as a family treat than a visit to Pantochino's new holiday offering "The Great Cinnamon Bear Christmas Radio Show"?  This is one confection that has no calories or risk of causing tooth decay.  Until December 29, at Milford Center for the Arts, 40 Railroad Avenue, Milford, decorations will  glow and hearts will swell as this novel musical by Bert Bernardi, with music by Justin Rigg, debuts.

Remember the old-fashioned radio shows, where the family would finish Sunday dinner and gather round the big brown box radio to hear a tale of adventure?  Bert Bernardi has recreated that bygone age with a fun and mysterious tale about an Irish bear, a small Christmas ornament come to life.

Ryan Eggensperger is one perfect Paddy O'Cinnamon, with just the right balance of spunk and kindness.  He rises to the occasion when twins Judy and Jimmy (Dani Corrigan and Carter Popkin) are sent to the attic to find the prized silver star for the top of their Christmas tree.

When they discover the star is missing, the cinnamon bear ornament becomes real and offers to help them recover it.  That means adventures to places like the Root Beer Ocean and Lollipop Mountain and encounters with the Crazy Quilt Dragon, the Inkapoos, King Blotto, a Woo-Woo Whale, Penny the Pelican, the Wintergreen Witch and, finally, Queen Melissa.

Meanwhile at Radio Station WJBJ, the new station manager Mr. Coot (Jim Cooper) is being mean-spirited and threatening to pull the holiday show off the air.  While Harry Hammond (Justin Rigg) accompanies them on piano, commercials about everything from soda to shampoo to Spry are sung by Kylie Poggio, Dale Allen, Shelley Marsh Poggio and Alex Koumbaros, while Meredith Checkerberry (George Spelvin) and Finn Fenneman (Jimmy Johansmeyer) try to maintain order and decorum.

Authentic sound effects add to the fun.  At a recent show, Hannah Kupson stepped in at the eleventh hour and did a splendid job as the radio star Judy.  Bert Bernardi does a delightful turn staging and directing this family treat, perfect for young ones.

For tickets ($17), go online to www, or purchase them at the door.  Performances are Friday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  For an added treat, purchase a "Sweet Cupcasions," a sprinkled cupcake on a stick.

Will Cinnamon Bear save the day and help July and Jimmy find their beloved family silver star?  Tune in to Radio Station WJBJ and find out what Mr. Coot learns about holiday spirit.  This new musical was inspired by a real radio broadcast more than seven decades ago.

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