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December 18, 2013
Review: Re-Gift of the Magi
L to R: KIRK GOSTKOWSKI, PATRICK PIZZOLORUSSO, STEVEN BIDWELL, and NICHOLAS ALEXIY MORAN in RE-GIFT OF THE MAGI, a new play by Janet Hopf at The Chain Theatre.

Tucked away on a quiet street in Long Island City, just miles away from Manhattan, The Chain Theater is running its December play “Re-Gift of the Magi”. This updated version of “The Gift of the Magi” has been re-imagined by writer Janet Hopf ("God Bless You, Mr. Scrooge!") and director Greg Cicchino ("Some Girls", "What’s in a Name"). With a simple set and a narrator to lead the way, the audience is taken on a journey of discovery revealing how a young boy from Galilei becomes a King.

The play opens with three not-so-wise men. Traveling east they are told by a prophet that they must follow a bright star to a baby in a manger. The three men include Balthazar, played by Nicholas Alexiy Moran ("The Nanny Diaries", "Almost", "Main"), Gasper, played by Steven Bidwell ("Urinetown", "Fatal Encounters"), and Melchior, played by Kirk Gostkowski ("Leave Me Behind", "The Shape of Things"). The three wise men carry with them frankincense, myrrh, and gold. After they offer up their gifts they go off into the night to find their way home.

Fast forward twenty-five years: we find the baby in the manger is a full-grown man named Joshua (that’s how the townspeople pronounce “Jesus”). Joshua (Patrick Pizzolorusso), like all of the characters in this play, possesses the characteristics and nuances of young people today. Joshua is whiny and full of complaints.  He gets into trouble and fights with the locals in the temple. The three wise men, meanwhile, all have a thing for Mary (played by Megan Sass; “Surrender”, “Stop the Bleeding!”), Joshua’s mother, and are obsessed with harlots, money, and wine. In further updates to the traditional story, the play also touches upon mass consumerism, stopping for a moment to promote sheep hair; makes reference to “Holy-Day Inns”; and injects cheesy lines from holiday songs like “Do you hear what I hear?”

Creating relatable characters and including modern references a young audience can connect with was a smart move for Hopf. And the actors certainly do their part to help move the story along as well.  Pizzolorusso is convincing as a spoiled teen, doing a remarkable job with the character's Southern accent.  Gostowski as Melchior is the most appealing of the wise men, embracing Melchior’s thirst for danger and contempt for “garlic breath” Romans; Bidwell is most convincing as his main character Gasper (he takes on numerous parts); and Moran, though often overpowered by his counterparts, is able to convince the audience that a man with a name like Balthazar can have a heart of gold.

“Re-Gift of the Magi” successfully puts its own twist on the traditional biblical story; if you are looking for a fun new take on the usual Christmas fare, it's worth checking out.

Performances of "Re-Gift of the Magi" continue through December 21.  Check out our full event listing here: https://stagebuddy.com/listingdetail.php?lid=16227

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Written by: Geralyn Greco
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