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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 9, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 49
Every Christmas Story offers every Christmas gag you can think of
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Every Christmas Story offers every Christmas gag you can think of

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)
ArtsWest
Through December 24


An abundance of stage productions this year allow for holiday avoidance syndrome, if that's your desire. Or at least getting a holiday fix without getting too deeply maudlin or religious or precious. This year, ArtsWest has gotten into the spirit with a funny amalgamation of Christmas classics all rolled up into one silly extravaganza. It's a combination make-fun-of/pay-homage-to what Americans now experience as classics. Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) is the brainchild of Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez.

If you're trying to go to lots of Christmas stage shows, and feeling overwhelmed, why not try just one that smashes all of them together at once and gets it over with? You won't have missed any of the classic celebrations, and only have to attend one play! Efficiency during the season is at a premium.

Directed by veteran funny-lady Kate Jaeger, and using the multiple talents of Nick Edwards, Justin Huertas, and Brian Lange, this show comprises aspects of A Christmas Carol, Peanuts, It's a Wonderful Life, and more in snippets and throwaways, and sometimes a strangely compelling stage mix (like music mixing, only with script-blending).

Nick gets to be the slightly befuddled, Jack Black act-alike who champions the lowbrow and over-energized celebrating side. Justin wants to be the historian, getting each of them to read flash-card snippets of how Christmas is celebrated in other countries, reminding us that there are many non-happy ways that Kris Kringle or Santa Claus is spoken of around the world. Some even have his sleigh led by demons and monkey characters, and he shows up if you've been bad.

Justin pays homage to Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, as well. He says Hanukkah is just like a lot of other Jewish holidays: 'They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat.' And the best part of Kwanzaa is that you'll never see a television special of 'A Very Brady Kwanzaa.'

Brian is the classicist and loves A Christmas Carol. At first, they start to present that play. Not that they're happy with it. Indeed, they say they're only doing it for health insurance.

But Justin and Nick think it's been done to death, so they sabotage his plans and talk him into presenting snippets of a lot of other stories, television included. And at first, he's typecast into being the title character from the television cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Copyright issues don't seem to be a problem for Seuss, but suddenly, Rudolf can't be a red-nosed reindeer in this version, he's got to be a rain-goat. And the glow is green. And his name is Gustav. At least Santa can be called Santa. But don't tell Nick that Santa doesn't exist. He's still firmly in the camp that believes in Santa and Easter Bunny (and probably the Tooth Fairy).

You won't even have to go outside for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. A fantastically silly sight gag helps you visualize at least one giant balloon. In fact, the whole thing is gags and sketches and silliness, with a huge helping of good cheer. A cheeky, fun evening for all (except the youngest), and even funnier if you have a glass or two of eggnog before you sit down.

For more information, go to www.artswest.org or call 206-938-0339.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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