Two more gifts on the stage.

December 11, 2002.By Graydon Royce, Star Tribune.

Here’s something old and something new in what seems to be “the busiest Christmas theater season ever.” Hey, I feel a song coming on.

What’s old is “A Christmas Carole Petersen,” Tod Petersen’s heartfelt homage to his mother’s hopelessly square passion for holiday magic. For the third year this 75-minutes jewel, directed by Theatre Latté Da’s Peter Rothstein, ranks among my favorite Christmas shows.

Petersen and Rothstein have polished this year’s version with more antics, jokes, impressions of Mom Petersen and escapades with young Tod. It loses a dash of the homemade, whipped-up-in-the-garage flavor, but it is still a wonderfully warm piece, sure to resonate with anyone whose family has even a whiff of holiday tradition.

Few performers match Petersen’s unbridled joy at being onstage. He wears his heart on his sleeve, acts the fool and plunges into his vulnerabilities to bring vivid life into a story that clearly matters to him.

Rothstein cast three new singers – Dieter Bierbrauer, Sara René Marting and Karen J. Weber. They, along with music director Denise Prosek, range through Christmas songs you’re unlikely to hear anywhere else – alternately tender and poignant, bittersweet, boisterous and dryly funny.

It’s just not Christmas without a visit with Tod, Carole and all the Petersens.