Let's Hear it for Christmas / The Naciwonki Cap: Two Children's Plays


78 pages
ISBN 0-88924-174-0





Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is Assistant Director of Libraries at the University of


Say “Beth McMaster” and most people associated with children’s theatre will give a Pavlovian response. Which Witch is Which? is McMaster’s best-loved and perhaps most often produced script, but she has written a host of highly successful children’s plays which have proved their appeal to international audiences. She has the good fortune to have her out-of-town tryouts with the Peterbonough Theatre Guild where she can direct her shows — and no doubt adjust and fine-tune them — in front of audiences and in the company of casts and personnel familiar with her ways.

Simon & Pierre has published her latest scripts in neat pairs, with much summary information on the cover (audience level, performing level, author and composer notes, plot and press comments) and the necessary information regarding the availability of music inside. The text also has illustrations ranging from whimsical silhouette to the prosaic depiction of key moments in each play: the illustrations are, indeed, suitable for a child of 4 to 7, but what they add to the book I find hard to fathom, as I cannot seriously imagine that children of that age will be reading these plays — enjoying them in performance, certainly, but not reading them — and even Simon & Pierre acknowledges that the performing level is age 12 and up. Besides, McMaster meticulously records how the original production was staged and how she achieved certain special effects.

The plays in this volume are two of nine short plays for Christmas parties. Both use the device of backwards words. The more successful, I would judge, is The Naciwonki Cap. Let’s Hear it for Christmas is marred by a long verbal exchange with the audience which demands a rather connected sense of story line on the part of the young audience and is basically in the style of straight question and answer. Such exchanges are briefer in The Naciwonki Cap, which also includes a humorous “magic” verse to help the plot along, very appealing to children and something they would delightedly retain after the show. Both plays have music which the audience is called on to learn as a sing-along. The script itself contains no music — not even a melody line — so I cannot comment on the vocal appeal of the hummability factor which would surely enter into the choice of one of these plays for production.

Although Simon & Pierre scripts are clear about the availability of music and almost painstaking in their notes regarding playing style, props, design appeal, etc., they give no indication of whether the royalty which will be quoted on inquiry will include music performance rights or whether extra payment will be required. It would also be of interest to know whether one had the right to set the printed lyrics to one’s own original music.


McMaster, Beth, “Let's Hear it for Christmas / The Naciwonki Cap: Two Children's Plays,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/34733.