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BWW Review: QUARANTINE WITH THE CLAUSES at Short North Stage

Debut of musical is a good reason to stay at home

BWW Review: QUARANTINE WITH THE CLAUSES at Short North Stage

While Dr. Anthony Fauci proclaimed Santa immune from COVID, the king of Christmas however is still susceptible to its side effects. In QUARANTINE WITH THE CLAUSES, a musical by Mark Waldrop (book and lyrics) and Jeff Lodin (music), Santa Claus (Thom Christopher Warren) and Mrs. Claus (Erin Maguire) spend the holiday season in lock down, waiting for COVID to pass.

The world premiere of the 90-minute musical can be viewed online between Dec. 10-27 by making a donation on ShortNorthStage.org. The show was commissioned by Short North Stage. After working together on a SNS previous show, WHEN PIGS FLY, director Edward Carignan and Lodin decided to collaborate again.

The script views the pandemic in a circus mirror, finding humor in isolation, social distancing, and debunking Christmas mythology. Maguire comes across like a funny, engaging version of Kathy Lee Gifford after four cocktails at a Christmas party while Warren is more like a cross between David Cross and Nathan Lane hosting the Tonight Show.

"Why don't we throw a party where everyone can get together ... remotely?" says Mrs. Claus holding a martini glass aloft. "You know a little shindig where we can be ourselves? Where you can drop that whole bowl full of jelly routine and I can show the world that I don't spend a year in Granny glasses and an apron pushing cookies?"

Locked in a room with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Josh Houghton) and MIT students Belle (Lisa Glover) and Beau (Hunter Minor), the Clauses connect with friends around the world via Zoom for a virtual variety show.

Belle and Beau unveil their latest tool to modernize Santa's workshop, the P.I.N.E.C.O.N.E. app. Billed as a device where owners can direct message Santa, the two reveal the app (an acronym for Personal Information Nexus for Expanding Covert Overseeing Nearly Everyone) is a "nice and naughty data gathering system."

"It sees you when you're sleeping," Belle states ominously. "It knows when you're awake."

Rudolph displays his true side as a out-of-the-closet, slightly bitter piano virtuoso despite his cloved hooves. Asked about what advice he would give to interns of the Short North Stage, the reindeer offers the following suggestion: "Don't let yourselves be pigeonholed into being just one thing. It's been the bane of my existence. I am an accomplished jazz musician, a yoga instructor, and an expert on aerial navigation in fog but all anyone remembers me for is that stupid television special."

Lodin and Waldrop slide some melodic, waggish tunes and Carignan and Dionysia Williams choregraph spectacular, yet socially distanced dance routines between the banter of the main characters.

During a Zoom call with Santa, Becca (Avery Bank) explains why her family adores Christmas despite being Jewish. Her song "Chinese for Christmas," a playful rendition of "Hava Nagila," tells how Becca's family orders Chinese takeout every Christmas from the only restaurant open.

"Chinese for Christmas, Chinese for Christmas. It's not strictly Kosher but on this night, we cheat," Becca explains while juggling cartons of Chinese food. "Pork that is chopped so small may not be pork at all."

Near the end of the show is "The 12 Days of Covid," an inspired take on "The 12 Days of Christmas." Ann Fisher, Nina West, Andrew Lippa, Tom Regouski, Nick and Kate Lingnofski, James Sargent, Christeen Stridsberg, Rick Gore, Peter Yockel, Adam Williams, Cary Mitchell, Krista Stauffer, and JJ Parkey reference items that made 2020 "burn into our memories," with shout outs to "The Tiger King," crushes on Dr. Fauci, toilet paper shortages, and hand sanitizer among others.

Not all the songs are parodies. Tiffany (Joelle Smith) tells St. Nick about how she has spent three months quarantining with her parents and longs to see her brother who is trapped on a Carnival Cruise Ship. It seems like a set up for another tongue-in-cheek ballad. Smith then shifts gears and delivers a stirring reading of "Just Like Every Christmas," a song that could be a staple of future Christmas playlists.

In the song "Christmas in Columbus," a routine beautifully choregraphed by Williams, Carignan steps into the spotlight and delivers his earnest Christmas card to the Capital City.

In the end, one realizes that being quarantined with the Clauses might not be so bad. It sure beats being stuck with the cast of the musical, Dr. Seuss' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS.

For viewing information on QUARANTINE WITH THE CLAUSES, please visit https://www.shortnorthstage.org/quarantine-with-the-clauses,


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From This Author Paul Batterson