BWW Reviews: A VERY POINTLESS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR at Pointless Theatre Company Shows The North Pole Like You've Never Seen It Before
The elves of the North Pole spend 364 days a year preparing for Christmas-but what do they do on their night off? The inventive team at Pointless Theatre Company answers this question in the form of a quirky, irreverent cabaret show that melds humor and holiday spirit into a refreshingly original production. Performed by master of ceremonies Mrs. Claus, a small ensemble of elves, and their house band, this holiday spectacular utilizes music, improve, puppetry, and other forms of comedy to create the joyful, if unbalanced, world of the North Pole.
With Santa out of the picture on Christmas Eve, Mrs. Claus and her elf friends are ready to cut loose with their annual talent show. With some help from the audience, they create a unique line up of strange but genuinely funny acts. Under the direction of Frank Cervarich and Lex Davis, these talents blend into a cohesive variety show. Running jokes and plenty of spur-of-the-moment dialogue ensure that the evening is fast-paced, even in mostly scripted moments.
Leading the ensemble cast, Mrs. Claus (Mary Catherine Curran) provided the bold personality needed to counter that of the hyper cheerful elves. Thanks to Curran's countless throwaway jokes and references to her personal history, Mrs. Claus became a surprisingly well fleshed-out character over the course of the performance. Her ideal diva attitude and wealth of fabulous red costumes gave her the authority to literally run the show, and as her persona developed the hilarity only increased.
The elves (James Finley, Lee Gerstenhaber, Madeline Key, Anna Lynch, and Matthew Sparacino) each showcased their own skills and stayed gleefully in character even during improvised moments. Their bubbly spirit was authentic even in its ridiculousness, making them both likable and fascinating to watch. While each member of the elf ensemble shone individually during the show, a clear highlight was Nutmeg (Anna Lynch)'s solo performance at the end of the first act. Her impressive and appropriately absurd routine perfectly exemplified the cast's diversity of talent.
Playing their accompaniment and jazz-infused carols without a hitch, the band (Aaron Bliden, Devin Mahoney, Nick Wilby) provided warped holiday lyrics and occasional commentary to add an extra layer of humor to the evening. The costumes by Frank Labovitz were an excellent combination of cute and bizarre, with plenty of striped unitards-the way one imagines an elf would dress. Pointless Theatre Company's performance space is small but filled with warmth, and the set designed by Mel Bieler was like a picture out of a Christmas card. The inclusion of the audience in the seating arrangement and the decorative snowflakes around the room were a nice final touch.
This production is not for the faint of heart, and audience members should come prepared to contribute ideas, phrases, and more to the boisterous cast. As with all improvisational theatre, certain aspects were distinctly hit-or-miss, and some jokes inevitably fell flat. Even in less funny moments, however, the performers' obvious enjoyment kept the show moving. What the production occasionally lacked in comedy, it made up in spirit (holiday and otherwise).
Pointless Theatre Company's Very Pointless Holiday Spectacular is a fresh, fun choice for grown-up entertainment this holiday season. Just make sure not to sit in the Department of Finance.
Photo Credit: Ann-Marie VanTassell