You’ve got to hand it to Pointless Theatre- the above title alone is just about perfect for 2020, even if it started out as a simple twist on the company’s clever name. As we are all in need of a little pointless cheer these days, I must tell you that it cheers me no end to tell you about Pointless’ newest online venture.
Originally produced at the Mead Theatre Lab in 2015, this interactive show has been wonderfully tweaked for our peculiar times. Our host, the abundantly bosom-ed Mrs Claus (the abundantly talented Mary Catherine Curran) and her mostly unseen elves are putting on a talent show, but it’s not a twee little show for the wee little kiddies, oh nooo.
The 9pm after-kiddies-bedtime showtime is a hint of holiday pleasures best suited to the grownups, and Pointless doesn’t disappoint. Mrs Claus has assembled a diverse assemblage of B-list (and lower) Christmas celebrities: the Elf on a Shelf, the Coca-Cola Bear, and Michael Morris, that little kid from the most execrable holiday song ever written, “The Christmas Shoes”. C’mon, you remember the song: kid goes to a store to buy shoes for his mother, who’s ‘going to meet Jesus tonight’. Try not to gag, I dare ya.
Pointless takes these graspingly mercantile holiday characters, and, to our delight, turns them inside out: little 12 year old Michael, played by twenty-something Parker Callahan* in a beard, rouged cheeks and tablespoonfuls of lip gloss, admits to the audience that the shoes were actually for him. His mother, a conservative radio talk show host, is alive and well and unaware that her little darling is more than a little into drag.
Likewise go the other characters: Elf on A Shelf (Jillian Ebanks)* despairs of Covid quarantine and wants nothing more than her human family to finally leave the house so she can jump off the shelf and raid the liquor cabinet. And Coca-Cola Bear, delightfully portrayed by Jordan Savusa*, has been fired for drinking a Pepsi. Is he sad? Not a bit. He’s happy living in Hawaii, eating all the tourists who don’t wear masks, and sings the best song of the evening, “A Bear in Paradise”. Honestly, you could craft a whole evening around this fellow: in his too-small child’s teddy bear hat and with his ukulele and wide, goofy grin, Savusa is the brightest light in a show of bright lights.
Stitching all this together are Mrs Claus’ co-hosts, two demented puppets from a wildly warped version of The Island of Misfit Toys: Stuffy the Overstuffed Elephant (Lee Gerstenhaber) and Dick-in-a-Box (Matthew Sparacino). Along with Elfaba (Elise Wattman) on keyboard, the quartet bounces from bad jokes to puns to current events. Hmm, most of those things are the same these days.
A special shoutout must go to Rachel Menyuk and Kyra Corradin, puppet builders extraordinaire, who takes the original 1960s stop-action puppet designs and turns the two iconic Misfits into naughty-and-definitely-not-nice adult characters.
Presented on Zoom, the chat room was alive with quips from the audience and suggestions for on-the-spot jokes from the cast. Considering that this show was originally intended for a live audience, its format suits the transition to an online show fairly well, and the fine animation by Navi adds a nicely polished edge.
There are only a couple more dates for this live show (Dec 24 and 31), so book now, although, once word gets out, the nice thing about Zoom is that there’s no such thing as a sold-out show. If there were, you’d be outta luck for this delightfully tongue-in-cheek (and probably other areas) show of the season.
A Very Pointless Digital Holiday Spectacular
Remaining performances: Dec 24 and Dec 31
Free to view
A Very Pointless Digital Holiday Spectacular . Written by: Mary Catherine Curran, Frank Cervarich, Lex Davis, Lee Gerstenhaber and Matthew Sparacino
Ensemble: Mary Catherine Curran as Mrs Claus; Lee Gerstenhaber as Stuffy the Overstuffed Elephant; Matthew Sparacino as Dick-in-a-Box
Featuring: Parker Callahan*, Kyra Corradin, Jillian Ebanks*, Jack Felker, Enuji Kim; Asia Martin, Kelly McGuigan, Chloe Mikala, Hilary Morrow, Yasmin Ramos, Jordan Savusa*, Becca Slack, Greg Twomey
*indicates guest artist on the Dec 17 performance.
Graphics and Animation: Navi. Puppets: Kyra Corridin & Rachel Menyuk. Music Director: Elise Wattman . “AVPHS Theme Song” by Aaron Bliden, Devin Mahoney, Nick Wilby . “Stay The F*ck Home” composed by Elise Wattman, lyrics by Mary Catherine Curran . Stage Manager: Rachel Parks . Produced by Pointless Theatre . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.
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