It may have been that the show starts in Wisconsin (my childhood home). Or that Grace’s dream is to be an astronomer (my childhood aspiration). Or perhaps that Grace’s family’s toy store is called SheTOYgan (it’s probably that). Whatever it was, “The Land of Forgotten Toys” endeared itself to me. This is clearly a musical for kiddos and kiddos at heart, of which I am the latter.
Grace (the incomparable Bre Jacobs) is disenfranchised from the idea of Christmas as she approaches her eighteenth birthday. She’s ready to get out of her hometown of Sheboygan. As she aches for the day when she can say sayonara to everything she’s known, she and her ditzy pal Nikki (Mary-Margaret Roberts) are whisked to the North Pole to the land of Cassiopeia. They meet a band of misfit toys who tell them their woes as well as the kidnapping of Santa. It’s up to Grace and her friends to save the day and, ultimately, Christmas.
So, this new musical is a mashup of 1974’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus” and 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” minus the Heat and Snow Misers.
“Forgotten Toys” is a charming show with music by Dylan Marcaurele and book and lyrics by Jaclyn and Jennifer Enchin, based on a story by Larry Little. As a new work, some songs are much stronger than others. Charlotta’s music, expertly sung by Liz Norton, is overly complicated. It jumps octaves, making for an unnecessarily difficult performance. The jump from very low to very high is a bad-guy trope, but feels out of place. Considering how lovely Grace’s songs are, it seems more sloppy than purposeful.
The real stars of this show are undoubtedly Charlotta’s hench-elves Joe Scott and Maya Keane. As the youngest performers in this cast, Scott and Keane have skilled folks to learn from, but their delightful antics are audience pleasers through and through. Who can resist Keane’s adorable evil laugh? No one, I tell you, no one.
“Forgotten Toys” might not be the show for the diehard yuletide ballet crowd. It also might not be for folks looking for something enlightening. This is a show for families, young people and anyone looking for a little levity in their holiday season. This is a musical reaching for the stars in a season with so many twinkling lights it can be hard to see them. (Amanda Finn)
CPA Theatricals at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 North Lincoln, (773)404-7336, greenhousetheater.org, $29.50. Through December 29.