Wednesday, December 7

Theater Review: Theatre on the Square (TOTS): A Christmas Survival

So many delightful, and deserving, events to attend and performances to review... in that vein, an opportunity has presented itself to me. A gentleman in the world of theater for whom I have much respect has transplanted from New York City to his hometown of Indianapolis and offered to relieve me of some of the numerous reviews worthy of attention in town.

Without further ado ~ enter a review by John Simmons ...

A Christmas Survival Guide has been a staple of many Christmases Past but, even if you’ve seen the show before, you haven’t seen the version now being performed at Theatre On The Square’s intimate, cabaret-style Stage 2 Theater. The TOTS’ creative team has refurbished this holiday chestnut with an assortment of up-to-the-minute pop culture references, well-placed four-letter words and sexy double entendres.

How much a particular sketch tickles your funny bone will, of course, depend on your particular brand of humor. Some standouts include: a hyper-sexed rendition of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ (with and Eric Brockett); a hilariously hyper-frenzied rendition of ‘Sleigh Ride’ (Anna, Shauna Smith and singing standout Josiah McCruistion); Mrs. Claus (Eric, in drag and employing an accent of undetermined origin) complaining about being neglected by her husband, especially on Christmas Eve; a lonely young woman (Gabby Niehaus) hitting up a department store Santa (Josiah) for a date to the office Christmas party; and a lusty Saint Nick himself (Josiah) extolling the virtues of being ‘the man with the bag’ when attracting the ladies.
Pet owners, in particular, will appreciate the holiday gift exchange between a dog, a cat and their human (Anna, Eric and Josiah). Those who’ve seen the show undoubtedly have favorites of their own (as will you).

The humor is broad and adults only, and some sketches work better than others. A Christmas Carol, it’s not. A Christmas Guide’s laughs also work best when they are shared with others. So, this holiday season – if you and your friends are looking for something more naughty than nice – why not trot down to TOTS and spend an evening with A Christmas Guide’s lively cast (ably assisted by Stage Manager and Cast Member Nikki Sayer and skilled piano man Levi Burke) in ushering in some Yuletide cheer?

The show’s setup is simple: the play’s characters are reading chapters from Dr. Holly’s self-help book, A Christmas Survival Guide, with pre-recorded voice overs letting the audience in on the advice being read. There’s no real story line, but a series of musical comedy sketches (with many offering new takes on classic Christmas songs) about maintaining a brave face when celebrating Christmas in the modern age.
Images: TOTS
John Simmons recently moved back to his hometown of Indianapolis from New York City, where he stage managed or produced numerous off-Broadway shows. John was also General Manager of The Active Theater. Active Theater alumni who have gone on to bigger and better things include Grace Gealey (aka Anika on Fox’s Empire) and Lucy Owens (now appearing in Miss Sloane).

Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes magazine food and wine column: Destination Dining and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic. She also is a speaker, consultant and trainer for hospitality, travel and luxury businesses, P.R., and tourism groups, as well as a radio and television guest and host. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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