Netflix’s Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square – A Community Theatre Production

Netflix’s Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square – A Community Theatre Production

Fifth on Netflix’s Holiday roster is another festive musical from country music icon Dolly Parton. Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square sees her team up with legendary choreographer Debbie Allen to bring this stage play to the screen and it definitely is a niche film to say the least. From the over the top musical numbers, to the sound stage production… It all feels very old MGM with a hint of 21st century inclusion. This is a Holly Dolly Christmas.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square follows the story of curmudgeon Regina Fuller (Baranski) who inherits her hometown after the passing of her father. With a medical prognosis on the way, Regina decides to evict all the residents of Fullertown so a company can build the biggest mall in Middle America. Led by Pastor Christian (Josh Segarra), the town rebels against Regina while she slowly starts to hallucinate an angel (Parton) who tries to convince her of the good in the town.

So that was something. Dolly Parton and Debbie Allen have created the most over-the-top, cliched and trope filled Christmas movie of recent memory. Small-town America, everyone is holly jolly except for the story’s Scrooge character, they are changed through a journey of self-discovery (although this time around thanks to a brain tumor instead of falling in a river or going to sleep). Oh and there is a musical number every five minutes. Some of them work while others feel easy to fast forward. It’s a mixed bag.

This is in part because of the cast. Many people will watch this movie for Parton or Baranski (which is understandable), but the remainder of the cast leaves something to be desired. They feel stiff at times with awkward dialog (Pastor Christian sounds like prequel Anakin Skywalker) making it difficult to see this as more than a community-theatre production on the small screen. That isn’t to say it does not do that well from its obvious sound stage setting and complex choreography, but it lacks something to bring it to the next level.

The most interesting part about the film was the representation throughout. Parton is known to tie her Christian religion to her work and Christmas on the Square is no different. From the town believing god is on their side to even a character being named Christian, it has many religious undertones. However, it manages to create a deeply religion middle America that is extremely inclusive. LGBTQ couples and families are a part of this church. They sing about fertility procedures alongside yule tide carols. Parton shows her version of religion and what it means to be Christian to her and that is the biggest message we can take away from this campy community musical.

Now onto the next Christmas tale! ‘Tis the season!

still courtesy of Netflix

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