BWW Review: HO HO HUMBUG 2.0 Packs Laughs in Revised 90-minute One Act
Scott Burkell's updated version of HO HO HUMBUG packs laughs and heartwarming moments in his most recent trimmed down version of this original Christmas comedy. Stark Naked produced the World Premiere last year and yielded mixed reviews. I wanted to see last year's performance of HO HO HUMBUG, but am now glad I waited for this one-act 90-minute version directed by Stark Naked Artistic Directors Kim Tobin-Lehl and Philip Lehl. The show opened on December 3rd and performances will run through December 23, 2015.
The magnificent colorful set could hardly be ignored as we entered the space at Spring Street Studios. Giant Christmas lights curled down from above, large geometric shapes adorned the constructed proscenium, giant ribbons unfurled onto the stage to provide a creative way to seat the actors, and a giant cutout of Santa hung upside down. The Christmas tree that appears later in the story seemed so tiny compared to everything else on stage. But this may have been a logistics issue, as they had to wheel the tree on from what seemed like a small entrance way during the show.
The show centers around a sarcastic, witty, and sometimes bitter writer named Guy who must take on a job as a Christmas elf at Macy's. Scott Burkell kept us engaged as he took us along a fun and entertaining journey. Guy undergoes elf training by Doofus, a manager with a lisp, played by Philip Lehl. Lehl's comedic timing was on point, and provided depth to the scenes. Doofus is serious about Christmas. He knows more than he lets on and even says "We'll see. We'll see," in response to Guy saying that he won't be back next year.
During Guy's time in training, he meets various other characters such as the flamboyant Bobby (Jesse Merrill), Sparkle (Susan Draper), and Joy (Kristen Warren). Merrill was as hilarious as his counterparts and never missed a beat. Draper's energy was through the roof as Sparkle, which made us empathize that much more when her spirit was shot down after interacting with the original Santa. Warren played Joy so much more sarcastic and pessimistic than Guy was. This provided a nice counterbalance to Guy, further grounding him, thus allowing us to connect with him. Warren flipped from one character to the next with ease, and provided each with their own varied voice and physicalization which made for great comedic moments.
Doofus asks Guy to fill in as Macy's Santa after the original Santa actor is fired. Through a series of funny and dramatic encounters Guy soon comes to realize that he is having a much bigger impact on the Christmas spirit than he previously thought. The Santa costume is left on the chair under dim lights at the end of the story. The story reminds many of us that sometimes what you do in life may seem insignificant to you, but may provide hope and joy for others.
HO HO HUMBUG - 2.0
Written by Scott Burkell
Directed by: Kim Tobin-Lehl and Philip Lehl
Featuring Scott Burkell, Philip Lehl, Susan Draper, Jesse Merrill, and Kristin Warren
Studio 101, Spring Street Studios
December 3 - December 23, 2015
Ticket Information: http://www.starknakedtheatre.com/index.html#tickets