Made for television in 1996 and released to home video the subsequent year, MRS. SANTA CLAUS puts conventional musical comedy back on its pedestal. Charismatically kicking up her heels, Angela Lansbury dispels myths of ageism and sexism as her vibrant heroine steps out from behind the
shadow of her very large husband and raises consciousness in turn-of-the-century Manhattan.
When Mrs. Claus (Angela Lansbury) is unable to persuade Santa (Charles Durning) that her new sky map will cut down his travel time, she tests her theory with a pre-Christmas spin in Santa's sleigh. But an unexpected storm forces her to land in 1910 New York; preoccupied with the upcoming
Christmas, Santa doesn't realize for several days that she is missing.
Mrs. Claus quickly insinuates herself into the lives of local residents like urchin Nora (Lynsey Bartilson) and stable owner Marcello (David Norona), who houses her reindeer. While Cupid recovers from a hoof injury, Mrs. Claus lodges at the boarding house of Mrs. Lowenstein (Rosalind Harris). Mrs.
Lowenstein frets about her firebrand daughter, Sadie (Debra Wiseman), who preaches for women's suffrage; Marcello is Sadie's biggest supporter. Mrs. Claus pays her rent with a supervisory post at the toy factory owned by Scrooge-like Augie Tavish (Terrence Mann). Encouraged by Sadie's fervor, Mrs.
Claus crusades for better working conditions for the child laborers at Tavish's workshop; for her efforts, she is fired.
Her return is further jeopardized when Tavish kidnaps the reindeer. But Mrs. Claus soothes away the childhood trauma that caused Tavish's present mean-spiritedness by giving him a teddy bear that he'd been deprived of as a child. After Nora is reunited with her family from Ireland, Mrs. Claus
secures Marcello's courtship of Sadie. She returns to Santa, who's so relieved that he breaks tradition and invites his wife to accompany him on his annual global gift delivery.
A toe-tapping delight, MRS. SANTA CLAUS deftly puts its unique stamp on a Christmas legend. Who would have thought a musical about child labor laws and women's rights could be so entertaining? But MRS. SANTA CLAUS subtly slips in its messages about divergent cultures living in harmony and husbands
learning to treat their spouses as equals. In hiring Lansbury to sing the tunes, the producers score a bull's-eye with an unbeatable combination--Lansbury and composer Jerry Herman--that once took Broadway by storm with Mame. Although Herman is often accused of repeating the same songs within a
given score, he has provided eight new hummable songs. Heading a large, talented cast (some of whom admittedly overdo the ethnicity of their roles), Lansbury gracefully shares the spotlight, particularly during a vaudeville-style soft-shoe with young Lynsey Bartilson. If MRS. SANTA CLAUS offers no
startling innovations, it spiritedly follows time-honored traditions with sunny professionalism.
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: G
- Review: Made for television in 1996 and released to home video the subsequent year, MRS. SANTA CLAUS puts conventional musical comedy back on its pedestal. Charismatically kicking up her heels, Angela Lansbury dispels myths of ageism and sexism as her vibrant hero… (more)