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|‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told’ a perfect intro to holidays|
|by Bo Shell|
|December 03, 2010 14:23|
Whether you love or hate Christmas (and I tend to fall in the latter), Actor's Express' holiday offering “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” is a great transition from the Thanksgiving dinner table to the annual gift-giving season.
Three cast members and a small crew of black-clad stagehands keep this delightful theater-in-the-round send-up on its toes.
Chad (Chad Martin) is excited to present the Dickens classic “Christmas Carol,” while Bren (Bren Thomas) and Amber (Amber Chaney) are sick of the run of the mill and insist on presenting all of Christmas' fabled tales... in about two hours.
Sprinkled with a mix of holiday and super-current local and pop-culture references, the show's first half flies by. Chaney's subtle but hilarious delivery leads the crew in versatility of performance, particularly during a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade bit, but Thomas' role is the most physically demanding and outright funny.
I wasn't the only member of the audience who developed a little Christmas crush on Martin, but as the comedic straight man, more laughs fall to his cast mates. It's certainly no lack of talent, as the chemistry he shares with the rest of the cast is vital to the show's success.
Disproportionally short, the second act is a mash-up of “Christmas Carol” and “It's a Wonderful Life.” After the fast-paced and reference-heavy first act, the second seemed a little dry, but those familiar with “Wonderful Life” will find plenty of gems buried in the script.
Ending with a mixed-nuts medley of classic holiday songs, the show stays fairly consistent from start to finish. Whether you laugh with Christmas or laugh at Christmas, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” is a worthy start to the most wonderful (or dreadful) time of the year.
Oh, and one more word for the wise: There are two audience participation bits, so if you're looking to avoid the spotlight, seat yourself beyond the first couple of rows.
Top photo: courtesy Offhand Photography
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