The Ultimate Christmas Musical: The Musical!
Yellow Tape's holiday musical delivers on the promise of its title with tremendous fun
Reviewed by Barry Pineo, Fri., Dec. 7, 2007
The Ultimate Christmas Musical: The Musical!
Salvage Vanguard Theater, through Dec. 22
Running Time: 2 hr
You've got to hand it to the folks at Yellow Tape Construction Co. Building comic redundancy into the title of a show takes courage because, by implication, it promises something not just entertaining but ironic, witty, hip – it promises a payoff, and if the payoff doesn't come, everyone involved is going to be doubly disappointed.
No disappointment here, though, because this ultimate Christmas musical delivers on the promise (premise?) of its title. It starts with the set, which isn't really a set so much as a massive Christmas display. The back wall of the stage at Salvage Vanguard Theater disappears behind rolls of wrapping paper used as wallpaper, with a bow topping it off. Wrapped presents crowd the stage, as do trees, Christmas lights, and a massive Homer Simpson dressed like Santa. You couldn't get more holiday at Macy's. The same goes for the costumes designed by Kendra Loposer, all red and green caps and stockings and sweaters.
The script and the actors make the show special. Many individuals receive credit in the program for creating this compendium of Christmas characters, which includes elves, reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and, of course, the Kringlemeister himself. The plot revolves around Billy Parker – inspired by the little boy in A Christmas Story – who has shot his eye out with a BB gun and lost all belief in Christmas. For some reason that either wasn't articulated or that I completely missed, Billy's lack of faith causes a crisis in Christmastown. But the reason for his lack of faith doesn't matter, because the show is really just an elaborate excuse to do modern comic riffs on Christmas themes. That's why you have a Rudolph who wears bling, two elves fornicating with and impregnating each other, and three male reindeer played by women who seem to be attempting to sound very black or very cool. Cross-gender casting is a hallmark of the show, with females taking on more than a few male roles, including that of a beautifully outfitted Santa Claus. While many people are credited with creation, one name stands out: Tim Doyle, who receives sole credit for composing the music and lyrics. Doyle also takes on two roles onstage: He's the keyboardist in the fivepiece band and, in the most successful performance, Frosty the Snowman. His massively huge stomach draws focus every time he takes the stage, but it's his energy and enthusiasm that, like his massive buttoned belly, really round out the evening.
Director Jonathon Morgan stages the show presentationally, more often than not bringing the actors out to the center of the large stage and having them stand there and deliver the text. Despite the use of mics, the songs tend to get lost in the sound of the band, and the choreography lacks somewhat in inspiration. But really, the songs are just peppy punctuation marks for the comic scenes, and even though the actors tend to hit single notes, the performances, especially those of Amy Nichols as the narrator and Bethany Esfandiari as Little Billy Parker, are tremendous fun. So if you're looking for something a little less traditional than your basic Christmas Carol or Nutcracker, you need look no further than this ultimate Christmas experience.
Dan Solomon, Fri., June 14, 2013
Jonelle Seitz, Fri., June 14, 2013
Caitlin Greenwood, Fri., June 14, 2013
Elizabeth Cobbe, Fri., June 7, 2013
Matthew Irwin, Fri., June 7, 2013
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