Dallas DeLeon (left) and Aaron C. Finley in "Clint Black's Looking for Christmas." Photo by Ken Howard
But for its country music-inflected tunes and a plot constructed around a returning soldier’s psychological trauma, Clint Black’s Looking for Christmas would fit nicely among the Hallmark Channel’s sugary and sentimental holiday movies. This world premiere on the Old Globe’s intimate White stage is a predictable yuletide diversion embracing familiar tropes of the season: the shopping crush, the precocious child’s Christmas pageant, etc. The plight of surviving Army veteran Mike Randolf (Aaron C. Finley), who’s literally haunted by the ghost of his best friend (DeLeon Dallas) killed in Afghanistan, is thoughtfully explored in terms of its impact on Mike’s wife and child (Liana Hunt and Kaylin Hedges). Black’s songs, all but four of them taken from his 1995 album “Looking for Christmas,” comfort and distract, guaranteeing that Mike’s woes won’t undermine a happy ending or a happy Christmas.
Clint Black’s Looking for Christmas is prone to cloying cuteness when it’s not occupied with the soldier’s anguish, but throughout it certainly has its heart in the right place.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 11/28/18.)
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat