BWW Reviews: Cone Man Running Productions' A SPONTANEOUS SMATTERING: HOLIDAY EDITION Puts the Ha Ha Ha in Happy Holidays

Cone Man Running Productions and Obsidian Art Space's popular 24 hour play festival, A SPONTANEOUS SMATTERING, was given a seasonal spin for last night's holiday edition. Drawing a crowd of theatre diehards, family, and friends, everyone in attendance was curious to see what these skilled and talented artists would create. Waiting for the show to begin, everyone was buzzing about the #smattering posts they had seen on Facebook, the writers' previous works, and their excitement about what they were about to witness. It doesn't hurt any that everyone was treated to a free shot as they picked up their tickets either.

For this event, the playwrights were assigned their genres, directors, and casts at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. As an added challenge, the scripts had to include a Christmas Carol with rewritten lyrics. In the spirit of Christmas, they were also given the opportunity to White Elephant the genres and select cast members. After spending the night writing their 13 page scripts, the casts, directors, and writers reconvened at Obsidian Art Space and discovered that they had to incorporate a big plastic, glittery snowflake as a prop in their pieces. Then at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, the shows enjoyed their world premieres, with an encore presentation at 9:00 p.m. and an award's ceremony after that.

A sucker for romantic comedy, Michael Weems' P OR V was hands down my favorite piece of the night. With just one night to write 13 pages, his scripting was incredibly polished and tight. Direction by Aimee Small guaranteed that the piece never lagged. Likewise, playing a temper-tantrum prone spoiled daddy's girl Miatta Lebile was hysterical. Opposite her was Ruth McCleskey's low key and sexually confused bisexual woman who just wants a simple wedding ceremony with the woman she loves. The final element was John Carraro's long suffering and lonely best friend, who made a pact to marry Ruth McCleskey's character. Each element of this show worked well, and left me wheezing for breath as I laughed heartily.

I also truly appreciate dry wit, which made L. RoBert Westeen's coming of age comedic melodrama VIRGINA... HOW DO WE SAY THIS? a hit for me as well. The exposition was a bit too lengthy, but by the end of the short, I was bowled over by the memorable and snappy one-liners. Direction by Amy Pope married well with writing. She deftly coached Steve Carpentier, Helen, Hurn, Mike McDermott, and Blaire Wesson to deliver droll performances that were reminiscent of British sketch comedy.

A true audience favorite was Conor Farrell's awkward Teen Flick inspired TEENAGE PIPES FOR THE HOSPITAL, ALEC. With a sophomoric zeal that MadTV would have been proud of, this gauche comedy pitted two young students from the Technical Institute of Technological Studies (or TITS) against a recreational drug abusing doctor in a Christmas Carol sing off. Direction by Stacy Bakri ensured that Stacy Carraro, Christopher Keller, Stephanie Kelso, and C.J. Stafford each created and fully committed to zany personas that engaged the audience and left them rolling in the aisles.

The other four entries for this SMATTERING were all amusing contenders as well. First and foremost, kudos must be given to all of the writers, Michael Weems, Bryan Maynard, Conor Farrell, Alex Scott, Leighza Walker, L. RoBert Westeen, and Nicholas G. Garelick, who wrote 13 page theatrical shorts that were inventive, clever, and just as funny as anything that could be seen on Saturday Night Live. Yet, unlike the writers for SNL, they crafted these pieces by themselves and in one short night. Additionally, each director stepped up to the plate to bring these wacky plays to life with casts that only had Saturday to get completely off book and stage the productions. Despite the high energy and boundlessly fun payoff, the hard work that all of these artists pour into these events is incredible and does not go unnoticed.

With every SMATTERING, winners are selected by the audience. Nicholas G. Garelick's spy theme short THE GIRL WITH THE "MY LITTLE PONY TATTOO" won Best Use of Genre. Michael Weems' P OR V won for Best Use of Charity for their LGBT - E (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender - Equestrian) charity, Conor Farrell's TEENAGE PIPES FOR THE HOSPITAL, ALEC won for Best Use of Christmas Carol, P OR V won for Best Use of Prop with it's glamorous snowflake engagement ring, the cast of Alex Scott's AN EXAMINATION OF INTERGALACTIC HOLIDAY TRADITIONS IN THE YEAR 2342 won for Cast That Looked Like They Had the Most Fun, P OR V won for Best Script, and TEENAGE PIPES FOR THE HOSPITAL, ALEX won Best In Show.

Next up from Cone Man Running Productions is A (LATE) NIGHT OF SKETCH COMEDY, which will be performed on Saturday, January 4, Friday, January 10, Saturday, January 11, and Friday, January 17 at 10:30 p.m. at Theatre Southwest, 8944 Clarkcrest Street, Houston, 77063 after their production of HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES by Alan Ayckborn. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.conemanrunning.com.

Next up at Obsidian Art Space, 3522 White Oak Drive, Houston, 77007 is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winning play RUINED, written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Tom Stell. It runs from February 28 through March 22. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.obsidianartspace.org.

Photos courtesy of Cone Man Running Productions.


P OR V by Michael Weems, directed by Aimee Small, Starring: John Carraro, Miatta Lebile & Ruth S. McCleskey.


P OR V by Michael Weems, directed by Aimee Small, Starring: John Carraro, Miatta Lebile & Ruth S. McCleskey.


P OR V by Michael Weems, directed by Aimee Small, Starring: John Carraro, Miatta Lebile & Ruth S. McCleskey.


THE MISSIONARY'S POSITION (OR GOING NATIVE) by Bryan Maynard, directed by Sam Martinez, Starring: Jamie Betik, Stephen Brown, Robert L. Jacobs Jr. & Danitra Luers.


THE MISSIONARY'S POSITION (OR GOING NATIVE) by Bryan Maynard, directed by Sam Martinez, Starring: Jamie Betik, Stephen Brown, Robert L. Jacobs Jr. & Danitra Luers.


TEENAGE PIPES FOR THE HOSPITAL, ALEC by Conor Farrell, directed by Stacy Bakri, Starring: Stacy Carraro, Christopher Keller, CJ Stafford & Stephanie Kelso.


TEENAGE PIPES FOR THE HOSPITAL, ALEC by Conor Farrell, directed by Stacy Bakri, Starring: Stacy Carraro, Christopher Keller, CJ Stafford & Stephanie Kelso.


AN EXAMINATION OF INTERGALACTIC HOLIDAY TRADITIONS IN THE YEAR 2342 by Alex Scott, directed by Melissa Flower, Starring: Elyse Freeman, Bob Galley, Megan Nix & Michael Raabe.


WWBHD? by Leighza Walker, directed by Rebecca Bernstein, Starring: J.R. Marshall, Jackie Pender-Lovell, Cassidy Welch & Clarity Welch.


WWBHD? by Leighza Walker, directed by Rebecca Bernstein, Starring: J.R. Marshall, Jackie Pender-Lovell, Cassidy Welch & Clarity Welch.


VIRGINIA...HOW DO WE SAY THIS? by L. RoBert Westeen, directed by Amy Pope, Starring: Steve Carpentier, Helen Hurn, Mike McDermott & Blaire Wesson.


THE GIRL WITH THE "MY LITTLE PONY TATTOO" by Nicholas G. Garelick, directed by Tom Stell, Starring: Julio Alonzo, LeeAnne Denny & Katherine Rinaldi.


THE GIRL WITH THE "MY LITTLE PONY TATTOO" by Nicholas G. Garelick, directed by Tom Stell, Starring: Julio Alonzo, LeeAnne Denny & Katherine Rinaldi.

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