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A Wilder Christmas

From 12 critic and 10 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Resonant, Great acting

About the show

The Peccadillo Theater Company presents a pair of one act plays by Thornton Wilder, 'The Long Christmas Dinner' and 'Pullman Car Hiawatha.' More…

'The Long Christmas Dinner' traverses 90 years in the life of a single American family as they gather around the dining room table for a holiday celebration. As characters enter through the 'portal of life' and exit through the 'portal of death' we begin to perceive the patterns of behavior within this comically extended family as well as the essential values of every generation.

'Pullman Car Hiawatha' follows a disparate collection of characters bound for Chicago during the holiday season. No ordinary train, this Pullman car allows us to eavesdrop on the thoughts and feelings of its many passengers, creating a cacophony of self-absorbed humanity.

NY Theatre Guide

"'The Long Christmas Dinner' and 'Pullman Car Hiawatha' are both scrumptious feasts and deserve to have two separate reviews as they are each drenched with so much flavor one needs many words to do justice to the creations...Dan Wackerman has directed both plays with a strong hand and skilled artistic vision. He manages to successfully create the worlds of each play and transports us magically into another time period." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"A flawlessly staged double bill of rarely seen one-act plays by Wilder...Despite their comparative obscurity, 'The Long Christmas Dinner' and 'Pullman Car Hiawatha' are miniature masterpieces, at once poetic and profound, and I doubt you’ll ever see either one done better." Full Review

New York Theater

"First-rate production, with a uniformly spot-on cast...Despite the packaging, these are not Christmas plays in any traditional sense, and shouldn’t scare away those with a phobia towards that genre...Characters enter through the portal of life stage right and exit through the portal of death stage left, but, rather than gimmicky, this seems natural, albeit speeded up." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Both plays are profound, breathtaking and bound to occupy your mind for days after you see them...While both plays are gorgeous and philosophically mesmerizing, they will not fill you with the warm and fuzzy holiday cheer that you get from watching 'It’s a Wonderful Life'...Maybe what we all need this Christmas is something a little more somber and introspective. You’ll find it in 'A Wilder Christmas.'" Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"It is enjoyably erudite, its tone of classic melancholy is most appealing...under Dan Wackerman's direction, a fine cast, led by Michael Sean McGuinness' Stage Manager, brings Wilder's vision, an odd amalgam of sadness and joy, to life." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"The acting in 'Pullman Car Hiawatha' is smoothly effective...but it’s the way the gears mesh rather than any specific performance that keeps this train on track. Despite the evening’s title being wreathed in the holiday spirit, these plays are more contemplative than joyful, but they do offer as much rich food for thought as whatever you’ll be eating at Christmas dinner will for your stomach." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Two - surely two of the most accomplished and enduring - are 'The Long Christmas Dinner' and 'Pullman Car Hiawatha,' which luckily for theatergoers are now the objects of fine revivals...Both plays are beauties and are acted accordingly by Wackerman's troupe. The pieces may not be performed as rarely as the Peccadillo info suggests, but they're the sorts of superior entries that never grow stale in the viewing." Full Review

New Yorker

"It is that balance—between emotional forthrightness and plain good old-fashioned invention—that makes Thornton Wilder’s beautiful short plays 'The Long Christmas Dinner' and 'Pullman Car Hiawatha' enduring works...There’s something free in Wilder’s depiction of how memory informs and misinforms the individual, how it binds and separates family in particular, and society in general." Full Review

Epoch Times

"The acting is enjoyable throughout. The actions of the characters, while sometimes seeming small, often reveal something much bigger when one looks at the entire picture... Far more than a simple holiday treat, 'A Wilder Christmas' shows the importance of appreciating both your life and the lives of those around you before they become little more than a mention in a long-neglected book." Full Review


"Well played by an excellent cast, and delicately pictured and paced, it uses few words to illustrate deep thought and emotion about life and death and the passage of time...Staged and played by Peccadillo’s polished cast and creative team with as much precision and sincerity as 'The Long Christmas Dinner,' 'Pullman' creates a strange comic-dramatic universe of its own...Together, the two one-acts make for an interesting and rewarding holiday-season evening of theater." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"In walking into a night of Christmas one-acts, one might expect a familiar, uplifting experience. Seasonal stories about redemption, hope and triumph of spirit. But if the Peccadillo Theater Company’s presentation of 'A Wilder Christmas,' is uplifting, it’s only in an intangible, spiritual sense...there is a stillness to the production that creates an eerie voyeurism." Full Review

Ethan Kanfer: New York Theater Reviews

"Visually, the production is topnotch…Director Dan Wackerman effectively blends the ethereal with the commonplace in 'Hiwatha.' He is less successful in 'The Long Christmas Dinner,' which, despite its title, feels a bit rushed. The actors nail the technical aspects, such as the period accents and the physicality of aging, but rarely get the opportunity to breathe within their roles." Full Review

Enchanting, Original, Profound, Intelligent, Must see

See it if u want to see an expert prod. of TW's 'mundane to the cosmic' style of playwriting. It's thrilling, extraordinary and suddenly emotional.YES

Don't see it if Wilder looks sentimentality, bathos and the mawkish right in the eye, sand in my shoos cross the line. Makes your blood boil? Skip it.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Masterful, Resonant

See it if You'll enjoy Wilder's cosmic/classical narratives where the profound is expressed through the mundane. Brilliant theater earnestly delivered

Don't see it if Grand, sawing the air, performances will keep you from absorbing the early work of one of America's greatest dramatists.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy Wilder and one acts

Don't see it if You are expecting a typical 2 act play, rather it is two one acts in extremely different time periods

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Dated

See it if You want to see Wilder experimenting with early modernist techniques to explore the theme of the importance of common, everyday events.

Don't see it if You don't like 1) non-realistic situations & confusing story lines, or 2) a director's addition of audience participation (I didn't like)

Delightful, Classic, Entertaining, Great playwright, Good for holiday season

See it if You like shows that take place around Christmas & were written by Thornton Wilder (Our Town, Skin of Our Teeth).

Don't see it if You don't want to see two short plays in a night instead of one longer play. You don't enjoy quieter shows & prefer a lot of action.

Absorbing, Masterful

See it if Classic American plays

Don't see it if Dislike the above

Cliched, Dated, Indulgent, Quirky, Slow

See it if you are a fan of Wilder and his style of writing - these are not among his best pieces and there's a reason these are rarely performed

Don't see it if you expect beautiful story telling and uplifting holiday stories; you don't like audience participation (I hate that in the theater)

Absorbing, Refreshing, Relevant, Riveting, Resonant

See it if Like Christmas

Don't see it if Don't like Christmas


See it if The work was as good a revival of the early Wilder as any I've seen. It's worth a trip.

Don't see it if you have no interest in these early plays.


See it if You love theater and chrias

Don't see it if If you are the grinch

Cast & Creatives (23)