What was The Plight Before Christmas?
The idea was that the townsfolk of Frontierland in Disneyland Park were going to put on a Christmas play in the form of a melodrama.
Along the lines of a classic Western, there were good guys to root for and a bad guy to root against and a heroine in jeopardy who wound up tied at the railroad tracks with the train approaching. In vaudeville style, there were corny jokes and silly songs, and the audience was encouraged to participate and respond to the on-stage shenanigans.
Who were the performers?
The characters included traditional Western hero Sheriff Douglas Fir, heroine Miss Holly Day, villain Noah Count and a pair of sidekicks, along with a piano-playing accompanist.
When and where could I find it?
During the holiday season of 2014, the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree was transformed into the Jingle Jangle Jamboree and this show played there multiple times daily.
Why spotlight it?
Okay, I’ll just say it – I didn’t get this show. And I really should have. I love nostalgic charm and old-fashioned fun, plus panto elements like cheering for the hero and booing the villain, but this show never came together for me. I’d probably attribute that to a script that just wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny or groan-worthy enough to amuse. It really just left me scratching my head wondering whose idea it was to put this thing on at this location.
Credit to the cast (especially the endearing ingénue Miss Holly Day, who truly was a bundle of pure sunshine on that stage) for doing their absolute best to make it work, but either the material or the concept failed. Or both. Or maybe it was the venue.
Like so many shows that really belonged in the cozy Golden Horseshoe Saloon and were dwarfed by the oversized Jamboree stage (ahem, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies – to be spotlighted here in a few weeks!), this actually might have worked in a smaller setting, but just got lost when trying to fill the expanse. Then again, maybe it was just a show more suited to say, Knott’s Berry Farm, and it just wasn’t an entertainment that fit at Disneyland Park.
While I have previously offered up ideas of better ways the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree could have been used, this was… not one of them. But it did illustrate that the solutions for this site were always temporary. And in a few weeks, this entire area will be just a memory of a place where characters visited and songs and music rang out in a quiet, shady spot at the back of the park, that will soon become part of a galaxy far, far away…
Did you see The Plight Before Christmas? How do you think it worked as holiday entertainment at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree?