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BWW Review: ON THE NAUGHTY LIST at Prima

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Prima Theater celebrates the other side of Christmas

BWW Review: ON THE NAUGHTY LIST at Prima

Christmas. It's the time of year when good little boys and girls are trying to impress the Elf on the Shelf, and when bad older boys and girls are trying to make another kind of impression entirely. There's a reason "Santa, Baby" is unforgettable. For the season, and celebrating all the perspectives on what's "naughty" out there, Prima offers On the Naughty List, a musical and spoken cabaret celebrating everything that's more tangy than sweet for the season. Directed and co-written by Prima's Mitch Nugent, it's a more adult take on Christmas - only slightly risqué, but also intellectually stimulating.

The opening songs, uptempo carols delightfully rendered by the nice but sassy Asia Littlejohn and the definitely devilish Donovan Hopper, might lure you into thinking that naughty Santas and showgirls in abbreviated elf costumes will be out on stage, but there's none of that business and much, more challenging business.

There's rewriting popular carols with audience assistance. There are "door prize" giveaways of the unexpected. And there's the storytelling. What's billed as "a TED talk" by the powerful April Mae Davis is a combination of storytelling and recounting ranging from Biblical times to the future. What's nice or naughty depends on who you are.

There's an old line, "Well-behaved women rarely make history." Was Mary nice or naughty? She's often depicted as meek, but she was in many ways a revolutionary. The infant Jesus grew to be a foe of the Roman Empire and certainly not on Pilate's gift list. What we take for granted as good things, or socially good ideas, were often illegal within the past fifty years. The modern celebration of Christmas would have horrified the early New England Puritans.

It might sound heavy, but it's not. Davis is storytelling some big ideas that will make you think twice about viewing the Christmas season as no more than a time to party, and to give the expensive presents to one crowd and the gag gifts and candy "coal" to another. It's not carols and lessons and a sermon, but an evening of contemporary and fun seasonal entertainment that's also thought-provoking and highly dramatic. If you want stimulating Christmas entertainment that's not just the same old thing, this is it.

At Prima's Culliton Stage through December 18. Visit primathestre.org for tickets and information.


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