|Powel Crosley Estate|
Crosley made his money in a wide variety of businesses. In 1916 he started a mail-order marketing business of auto accessories to car owners. He manufactured phonographs and radios and refrigerators. He owned the Cincinnati Reds and a radio station that aired "continuing day time drama" to keep listeners tuned in.
The format of the afternoon was explained. Four performances would be given, and we would have the chance to enjoy three of them. We would all hear Powel and Gwendolyn's interpretation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in the Great Room. From there (after time to grab some wine or wassail from the bar), we would head to the Library for cousin Betsy Trotwood's telling of Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and Oscar Wilde's "The Selfish Giant." Then the audience had to make a decision about which story to sit in on in one of the upstairs rooms -- James M. Barrie's "The Real Peter Pan" or Dickens' "Christmas Dinner with the Crachits" and Willa Cather's "The Burglar's Christmas." Whew!
Our time with Vanessa Webb in the role of Betsy was feel-good from start to finish. Oscar Wilde is not known for his child-appropriate stories. But "The Selfish Giant," with its tale of a giant who walls up his garden to keep children from playing there, was specifically written to be read to young listeners. It's a wonderful story that, while not Christmas-themed, definitely has the spirit of the holidays in it. And Betsy's version of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (which starts, of course, "'Twas the night before Christmas....") was great fun, with audience members making reindeer noises and crying out at appropriate parts.
All good things must come to an end, and the audience was then led back out to the patio for good-byes and a few more carols. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The show is running through Dec. 20, so there's still time to get there. And if you miss it, "Shakespeare at the Crosley" is coming in January. (Click here for information.)