BWW Review: THE KYLE AND MONTE CHRISTMAS MUSICAL 3 at Roxy's Downtown, Wichita's Favorite Duo
In life, there are things that simply go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Macaroni and cheese. Ginger and Fred. Kyle and Monte.
Yes, that's right folks, this unlikely duo has been cranking out Christmas shows for three years in a row, and while some would wonder how these polar opposites even found each other, the answer is - Right in the heart of the city! Under a previous owner, the pair probably met at what is known as Roxy's today. And to find Roxy's, located at 412 E. Douglas Avenue, all one has to do is drag Douglas headed west and you'll discover this hundred-year-old speakeasy, where dinner and drinks are still served. Named the 2018 Reader's Choice as Best Live Theatre Venue by the Wichita Eagle, there is no question this theatre is deserving of the title after all of these years.
Helping Roxy's earn such a prestigious honor is The Kyle and Monte Christmas Musical 3, a show filled with hilarious combinations of truly iconic American people, places and things. Conceived, written, directed and performed by Kyle Vespestad and Monte Riegel Wheeler, you'll find there isn't much of a structure to the Christmas shenanigans presented here on stage, but in Wichita, we don't care. In fact, we love it! We are thrilled to see goofy magic tricks gone wrong, drag spectacles of our local, minor celebrities, and wacky song lyrics changed to be paired up with our favorite jams. Our Christmases wouldn't be complete without Vespestad's infamous Gingey, or Caroling through the Decades- a crazy quilt medley of Jingle Bells where Vespestad and Wheeler take us on a sleigh ride through musical decades past and present. We even come prepared, especially for games like "What's in Your Purse?" Because the truth is, we really wanted a coveted ornament. It's just how we earned it that made it more fun and memorable, and that's all I'm going to say about that.
This year we were introduced to Kyle and Monte's personal assistants, Austin Ragusin and Sam Warner, both promising musical theatre graduates from Wichita State University. Like most graduates from the program, they certainly delivered in both performance and backstage assistance, helping Vespestad and Wheeler make quick changes, particularly during the MEGA MIX at the end of the First Act. This wild mélange of classic Christmas music is done in the style of standard duos such as Simon and Garfunkel, Beauty and the Beast, Sonny and Cher, and even Laverne and Shirley, paying clear homage to Penny Marshall.
The show was sublime. Lighting was well-executed by Arthur Reese, and costumes by Dora Arbuckle were appropriate. If I had to find anything to complain about, it would simply be that the live band, under musical direction of Andy Bowers, was at times a bit loud. But that problem was so minor that it didn't hinder me from enjoying more serious moments such as the Bing Crosby/David Bowie version ofThe Little Drummer Boy, or solos by Wheeler where he jingled all the way to Bel Aire, a place only a true native Wichitan would know. Sillier moments by Vespestad were just plain stupid funny! This original show was truly entertaining for ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. It certainly put a smile on my face.
For the next pop culture duo, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, check out Roxy's upcoming production Dog Sees God. I'm sure it will not disappoint. Performance dates are January 11th through the 27th. Ticket reservations can be made by calling 316-265-4400.
Photo Courtesy of Roxy's Downtown