BWW Review: Ryan Landry Scares Up A NIGHTMARE ON ELF STREET
A Nightmare On Elf Street
CAST: Adele Marie, Debbie Donner, et al; Sarah Jones, Donna Donner; Taryn Lane, Dani Dancer; Kiki Samko, Claire Cupid; Sam Terry, Dash Dasher; Sam Thornhill, Blitz Blitzen; Ruthie Fontanella, Vickie Vixen; Matt Kyle, Peter Prancer, Mr. Cupid, et al; Jeff Blanchette, Chris Comet; Ryan Landry, Shirley Holmes; Qya Cristál, Dr. Jodi Watley; Matt Fear, Mrs. Comet, Krampus; Scott Martino, Velma Vixen; Bill York, Mrs. Prancer; Tim Lawton, Santa, Rudolph; Dusty Moorehead, Mrs. Claus
Performances through December 23 by the Gold Dust Orphans at Machine, 1254 Boylston Street, Boston, MA; Tickets https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3568865
If you like a little horror with your ho-ho-ho, then program your GPS to guide your sleigh to Machine in the Fenway where Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans' 2018 Christmas spectacular is A Nightmare On Elf Street, their holiday-themed tribute to '80's slasher films. A Freddy Krueger-like serial killer is methodically taking down students from Elf Street Academy, who just happen to be members of Santa Claus' flight team. Will the jolly old elf still be able to launch his worldwide journey, or will Krampus, the evil genius behind Freddy's deeds, succeed in stopping Christmas this year?
There'll be no plot spoilers here, but rest assured that master detective Shirley Holmes (Landry) and her trusted companion, Dr. Jodi Watley (Qya Cristál), are back on the case after solving 2016's Murder On The Polar Express caper. Landry and Cristál slide comfortably back into their characters, as well as their Scott Martino-designed costumes, barely missing a beat even when one or the other momentarily breaks up or ad libs. The audience is unfazed by any faux pas, and seems to expect and appreciate when anyone veers off-script. It all adds to the fun and enjoyment that are synonymous with every Landry production.
Troupe-member Kiki Samko wears two hats (antlers?), playing feminist reindeer Claire Cupid, as well as stepping out to lead the band in her directorial debut. It's hard to believe that this is her first time at the helm because she keeps the herd under control, sets a steady pace, and gives everyone a chance to shine. Her own performance stands out (she must have had good direction), but she shares the spotlight with an ensemble of talented reindeer, elves, ice sprites, and ghouls. Music Director Tim Lawton (Santa, Rudolph) adds his own booming vocals for a full-throated rendition of "I am Kristopher Kringle" ("I, Don Quixote"), and has a stable of excellent singers, including Cristál, Taryn Lane (Dani Dancer), Sam Thornhill (Blitz Blitzen), Ruthie Fontanella (Vickie Vixen), and Jeff Blanchette (Chris Comet).
The production values for the musical numbers in A Nightmare On Elf Street are clever and colorful, with singing "muppets," the furry Abominables, and dancing reindeer. Martino's costume designs are inspired and inspirational, especially the combined reindeer/elf outfits, the glittery garb he wears as Velma Vixen, Mrs. Claus's frosty attire, and the winged angels who make for a grand finale. Windsor Newton's black and white line drawing set evokes a bevy of Christmas characters, and Michael Clark Wonson (lights) and Roger Moore and Tad McKittrick (sound) provide atmosphere and amplification to excellent effect.
Speaking of effects, like any slasher movie worth its salt, Nightmare has a fairly high body count, a smattering of severed parts, and more than a splash of blood, but none of it is exceedingly gross. Any entrails are strictly virtual, and usually incite more laughter than horror. (However, do not bring your children!) The Gold Dust Orphans are masters of comic timing across the board, and some of the broadest comedy is displayed by Sarah Jones (Donna Donner), Matt Kyle (Peter Prancer, Mr. Cupid), and Bill York, who, even as Mrs. Prancer, looks and sounds an awful lot like Bette Davis. Rounding out the cast are Adele Marie (Debbie Donner), Sam Terry (Dash Dasher), and Matt Fear (Mrs. Comet, Krampus).
It has recently been announced that the building housing Machine has been sold, so this is likely the last GDO Christmas show in their long-time home. However, Landry has no plans to retire the troupe and will produce a springtime show before the doors close for good, as well as seek a new venue. In the meantime, A Nightmare On Elf Street will be haunting you through December 23rd. Just be sure to watch your back!
Photo credit: Michael von Redlich (Kiki Samko, Sam Thornhill, Rhoda the Dog, Jeff Blanchette, Taryn Lane)