‘A Very Pointless Holiday Spectacular’
Through Jan. 2
Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint
916 G St., N.W.
It’s Christmas Eve and while Santa makes the global rounds with his reindeer, the elves have the night off. To celebrate a break from toy making, Santa’s dream team gathers for the North Pole’s annual talent show (simulcast in the South Pole and sponsored by Jolly Brand Candy Canes). That’s the setup for Pointless Theatre’s “A Very Pointless Holiday Spectacular,” a silly but fun celebration of the season.
The evening’s emcee is Mrs. Claus (Mary Catherine Currin), a brassy broad outfitted in a low-cut red dress and thigh-high black boots. She’s backed by five wide-eyed elves in striped stockings and Tyrolian hats. With names like Snowella Mistletoe (Hilary Morrow) and Sunshine Sparklecane played by skilled juggler Daniel Riker, the Santa’s helpers are more than ready for a night of onstage shenanigans.
Staged by Frank Cevarich, “Holiday Spectacular “is an amalgam of improv, sketch comedy, original music, several (intentionally) cheesy dance numbers choreographed by the company’s out co-artistic director Matt Reckeweg, and some of Pointless’ signature puppetry. The production notes describe the company’s second holiday cooperative effort as both cozy and mischievous. Yes, it’s a night of white Christmas memories and myriad tasteless jokes that sometimes land uneven but cheery.
The show looks adorable. Patti Kalil’s set is a charming throwback to the mid-century department store Santaland, and out costume designer Frank Labovitz creates sartorial holiday magic on a slim budget. The puppets are inspired by old school claymation TV specials circa 1960s like “Rudolph, the Red- Nosed Reindeer.” There’s Romeo (Chloe Mikala), a high-toned rat; Stuffy (Lee Gerstenhaber) a one-eyed, baby-voiced blue elephant campaigning for office with the slogan “Get stuffed with Stuffy”; and Dick (Matthew Sparacino), a boorish Jack-in-the-Box (here Dick-in-the-box), who owns the local Naughty and Nice nightclub. Sparacino doubles as elf Robin Goldencake and excels at improv.
A tight three-man band puts a rock spin on classic carols like “Jingle Bells” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Aaron Bliden (drums) and Nick Wilby (guitar) make like good-natured reindeer with antlers and brown noses while Devin Mahoney (vocals and keyboard) dons ram horns as the sinister, German-accented elf Krampus.
Holiday Spectacular saves the best for last with Mrs. Claus’ torchy “You Make the Magic Happen,” written by band member Bliden. As she sings, the other cast members expertly execute an elegant shadow puppet display.
The North Pole’s annual talent show could from benefit from some retooled material. And to make a fun show more satisfying, the company might consider training the spotlight on additional solo acts — a couple additional strong singers, and perhaps a contortionist or two and a sword swallower to follow the juggler.
For more traditional holiday fare try Ford’s Theatre superb production of Charles Dickens’ venerable chestnut “A Christmas Carol” (through Dec. 31) featuring the excellent Edward Gero as Scrooge, Felicia Curry sailing through the sky as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and out actor Rick Hammerly as happy, portly Mr. Fezziwig. Other local offerings include MetroStage’s “A Broadway Christmas” (through Dec. 27), a terrific musical revue take on “A Christmas Carol.” For kids and grownups, Adventure Theatre MTC at Glen Echo Park is premiering out playwright Norman Allen’ “A Lump of Coal for Christmas” (through Dec. 31). Helen Hayes Award winner Erin Weaver stars as Lump. At Logan Fringe Arts Space, out actor Matty Griffiths is starring in “The Santaland Diaries” (through Dec. 24), David Sedaris’ hilarious autobiographical piece about a would-be writer working a temp job as a Macy’s Christmas elf (through Dec. 24) during the holidays. And at Anacostia Playhouse, Theatre Alliance is reprising its acclaimed production of Langston Hughes “Black Nativity” (through Jan. 4), a jazz/gospel infused musical retelling of the Nativity story with a top-notch cast.