XMAS!8: Elves Gone Wild

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XMAS! The best-puncuated show on campus!

XMAS! The best-puncuated show on campus!

Holiday songs keep telling us that Santa Claus is coming to town, but Bwog is here to tell you about how XMAS! came to town over the past few days. XMAS! Elf Extraordinaire Elizabeth Self got into the holiday spirit.

Monday night was the “secular spectacular,” XMAS!8: Elves Gone Wild, written by Eleanor Bray, BC ’14, and Bijan Samareh, CC ’15, music by Ethan Fudge, CC ’15, and lyrics by Molly Heller, GS/JTS ’15. This year’s story chronicled the adventures of the ambitious Rudolph St. Ebenezer (who I guess is an elf?) as he fulfills his dream to work for Santa at the north pole, which, as it turns out, is actually a sweatshop that works elves to death while funding Santa and his cronies with various luxuries.

Following the croaking orders of his dead ancestor elf, Rudolph leads the other elf workers in a revolution. As it goes with revolutions, though, the struggle isn’t over when the tyrant is defeated, and Rudolph, pressured to manage the workers and and make enough toys, eventually abdictates to his moms’ house. Later his love interest comes to inspire him to return and lead the elves once more to make all the toys for the world’s children, and the show ends in an inspiring number—my favorite—all about how nothing can ever go wrong with communism.

Going in, I was afraid that the production would be a little stupid but hoped it would be fairly entertaining, and all my hopes and fears were fulfilled. It was a fun little comedy that was executed with a lot of talent, actually, even though the plot could have been lifted from any number of children’s movies (though children’s movies are generally a bit easier to follow.) The musical featured jokes on all of our favorite topics of discussion, including non-heterosexual parents, hazing, Hamlet, recreational drugs, and New Jersey.

More surprising to me was the music, composed by Ethan Fudge, which was played live and quite well, I thought. The tunes definitely livened up some of the less memorable scenes which, unlike most parts, did not have me laughing until my sides hurt. The lyrics were, admittedly, weaker than the melodies, which was surprising.  Sean Walsh, CC ’14, who played the exuberant protagonist, Rudolph St. Ebenezer, looks an awful lot like Michael Cera, at least from where I sat, which I found particularly distracting throughout the show. However, striking enough to catch my attention was the wonderful pair that Jessica Chi, CC ’15, and Simone Norman, BC ’15, made as Rudolph’s moms, both in acting and singing. My favorite character, though, was Larry, the spot-on mooch performed by Chris Evans, CC ’15. Evans decided to branch out from his LateNite comfort zone, and his presence in the silly musical was greatly appreciated.  He may play the same character every time (himself), but we like it and will keep it that way.

While no philosophical masterpiece, this year’s XMAS! was humorous and a great break from the end-of-semester pressure, and I’m quite glad that I chose to enjoy the simple fun of middle school sex jokes and ridiculous acting.

XMAS! actor via Shutterstock

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  1. Your thoughts on Chris Evans...

    spot on.

  2. Anonymous  

    Bijan is CC '15

  3. BC '14  

    This review is totally incoherent and reads like a demented diary entry. Freshmen should by no means review performances that are founded upon tradition. I'm glad you let us know that three time Varisty Show actor Sean Walsh reminds you of Michael Cera. That insight really is quite compelling.

  4. it's funny you mention middle school  

    seeing as how this review is the intellectual equivalent of a last-minute 7th grade book report

  5. Stop Bowg

    Great review, Bwog!

    It looks like you've, again, sent a first-year to review student theatre who then comes back and gives a resounding review of the performance!

    Sean Walsh's stellar vocals weren't worth a comment, NO, rather Bwog decided to tell us that he definitely looks like Michael Cera (which he doesn't).

    Come on. Student theatre may not be the campus favorite, but as someone who saw the show the cast and crew deserved better than THIS.

    Rebecca Farley, John Fisher, and Linsday Garber were physically amazing and unbelievably comedic.
    Cole Hickman carried a lot of the show's comedy through both the old guy voice and the Skippy character.
    Sean Walsh surely was the shows highlight.

    There was not a comment about the dancing (which was great), the overall plot (which was great, XMAS! isn't pretending to be philosophical so I'm not sure how that distinction was drawn), or the strong comedic acting from the ensemble as a whole.

    Bwog, you could at least make it seem like you pretend to care.

    A shame.

    • Perhaps  

      you should write reviews if you know so much about theatre. Sean Walsh's "stellar" vocals were mediocre at best, and only stood out because no one else was given anything good to sing. The fact that you refer to someone singing in a musical as "vocals" shows you have no idea what you're talking about. Who cares if he's done the Varsity Show three times; it doesn't count if you always play the same character.

      What confuses me about student-written pieces is if we just had a real creative writing student or even a legit English major write the book, they'd be so much more coherent and easier to follow.

      You all would be just as frustrated if the show had been given a poor review instead of just a poorly-written one. XMAS! was created as a fun, single day event, but this year they tried to make it more than that with the same result. If you're gonna act like it's a real thing, give us a good product. If it's going to be silly with the same old jokes, that's fine, just don't dress it up to be something it isn't.

      • Cole Hickman

        Heyyyy But on the bright side I got a shoutout(((=

      • THAT'S  


      • Anonymous  

        Not wise to harshly criticize an actor's performance anonymously, and then ridicule someone for doing the same thing to a reviewer with your name attached, Kira.

      • lol  

        Kyra Bloom you fucked up in a major way

      • ^  

        this comment w the author "perhaps" is a Kyra Bloom comment, and she posted another one below telling a commenter to not be harsh and then deleted it (because she has deleting power as a member of Bwog) because someone called her out because you can track comments. that's totally fucked—she's Bwog's art editor and does work in the theatre community and is talking shit in the comments section. now the whole theatre community knows you find Sean Walsh's voice "mediocre" and that you don't like XMAS! and think its meh

        • Kyra  

          I'm terribly sorry and embarrassed. I'm really an idiot when it comes to computers and it finally bit me in the bottom. Now I finally understand what the tracking button does... I obviously owe Sean an apology, and will admit the reason I wrote a stupid angry comment is really because Elizabeth has been picking up a lot of slack and been such a great staffer and I really hate when arts writers for us get shit on simply because we don't have enough people who are well-versed in theatre and don't feel like they have any conflicts of interest. That's a struggle I have to deal with, and I shouldn't have taken out my anger in the comments section.

          I do, in fact, think Sean is very talented and enjoy watching him perform and I'll be letting him know that imminently. I was just pissed and said mean things in a moment of frustration, because it's anonymous, and I see people do it every day. I of course don't condone it, but in a moment of stupidity I did something hypocritical and mean, and I really am sorry to anyone I've upset.

          And anyone that knows me knows I have strong distaste for the idea of Xmas; that's nothing new. But anyway, I've clearly learned my lesson and am sufficiently mortified.

          • Paulina

            Wait you guys I think Paulina was really good

          • Alexandra  (Bwog Staff)  

            Just to note, Kyra acted on her own in the decision to delete her comment - obviously we don't condone using editorial power for personal gain, especially where comments are concerned. We still do very highly adhere to our Comment Policy; very few comments are taken down and that's only if they specifically violate the policy.

            Kyra immediately contacted the head editorial board to let us know of her mistake and apologized profusely. We accepted her apology; everyone acts without thinking sometimes. She was genuinely remorseful and offered to publicly apologize.

            As an aside, I wanted to make clear that we support Elizabeth very much; it's only her first semester and she's already done a lot of awesome work for Bwog on a variety of subjects. The only way to get better at something is to do more of it, and that's what Elizabeth was doing here. It was my mistake to let this review go up without further editing than what we had done - I hope you'll understand we're on more of a time crunch because of finals, leading to lazy mistakes like this. Regardless, I take full responsibility.

            We're always on the lookout for more arts writers. As many of you have noted, it requires a specific kind of writing and knowledge. If you're interested in doing theater reviews for Bwog, please email or

            Good luck with finals.

            - Svokos

          • Anonymous  

            Wait, you work for Bwog and you don't know what the track button does?

          • Anonymous  

            "I was just pissed and said mean things in a moment of frustration, because it's anonymous, and I see people do it every day."

            This is a perfect explanation of the problem with Bwog (and other anonymous) comments in general.

          • Respect

            Kyra, you made a mistake, but I'm happy that you owned up to it and apologized publicly. It's incredibly easy for people to attack you viciously when you attach your name to something or it gets exposed, and I completely understand the mortification you're going through. While I also understand some of the frustration from the anonymous commenters here, know that most of them probably don't really know you as a person. It's so much easier for them to attack you and make you out to be a hypocritical editor if you're just a blank slate for them to project their dislike of Bwog (or, they might just be mean people). Nobody will remember this in a few months, because most of use have more important things than remembering what happened in comment threads, this isn't at the level of the Obamanard comment section! :)

            Anyway, everyone, I know it's finals weeks and tensions are a little high. Please take a break and get some ice cream. Peace

      • Well  

        Bijan is an English major. Is that "legit" enough of an English major for you?

      • lauren  

        and remember that time #realcreativewritingstudent eli grober wrote xmas last year

        yeah me neither

  6. theater people  

    such drama queens

  7. You clearly  

    Don't know who Sean Walsh is. He's CC 14.

  8. fuck this review  

    seriously. for the book report quality of this writing, this writer is so needlessly pretentious.

    "even though the plot could have been lifted from any number of children’s movies (though children’s movies are generally a bit easier to follow.)"

    "While no philosophical masterpiece" - you do realize this is XMAS, right? that's such a non-point. That's like being "Hairspray sure is no Waiting for Godot"

    " I chose to enjoy the simple fun of middle school sex jokes and ridiculous acting." - oh, because Elizabeth Self has such a nuanced sense of humor, and like did you even listen to what was being said on stage? there were like 2 sex jokes out of 100 one-liners, and there weren't any jokes about Hamlet, where did you get that from?

    you also left out so much about the other actors, and the dancing, and the set design. can we just end Bwog writing about theater when they only send pretentious freshman who don't know about tradition and who write book reports to do it?

  9. Anonymous

    i pretty much wrote this review in seventh grade word for word, but it was for a book report on to kill a mockingbird which i didn't actually read

  10. AHAAA  




  12. Full of great performances  

    There are many performances who are missed. Rebecca Farley, John Fisher, and Lindsay Garber were hilarious as the Cronies. Skylar Gottleib was a scene-stealer in the old elf scene. She delivered consistent, high quality characters. And the Santa gave a performance unlike any I've seen from a freshman. He was stellar. This show was a fabulous student theatre production.

  13. Paulina

    But what about paulina guys.

    • Secret Admirer  

      When Paulina started the dance fight during "Rise," I ejaculated. And then came back to the 10pm show to do it again. My refractory period has never been that good for another woman.

  14. Yo  

    Shout out to Isabel Nelson's set design. She managed to do a great job with such limited resources. That Olive Garden sign was great!

  15. How could you leave out  

    Sophie Solomon-O'Connell was director! This isn't the first time a BWOG review has ignored the director. She was just as important in the creative process, and she pulled off an amazing show in just 3 months! Without her vision and hard work, the show would not have been as awesome and funny as it was. She deserves way more attention, and at least a mention in the review. Amateur mistake to make in a theater review.

  16. Wait  

    "The tunes definitely livened up some of the less memorable scenes which, unlike most parts, did not have me laughing until my sides hurt."

    Wait, so they were laughing their assess off most of the time? Also, "same old jokes," Kyra? They need "legit English majors? to write it? When I went, the crowd was laughing its ass off almost the whole time and that's what XMAS is all about.


  17. kaylin

    y'all are great and i'm v proud of all my friends hapi chrimbo

  18. So I had this new idea...  

    ...instead of pre-recording the musical, I would do it live! Musical theatre will be changed forever.

  19. Anonymous

    I think its the other way around: Michael Cera looks an awful lot like Sean Walsh (at least from where I sat). Bwog can this be corrected?

  20. Van Owen  

    After reading Bwog for some time now, it seems as though it's impossible for them to post a review that critically appraises a show, even if it has an overall positive tone, without receiving a huge amount of backlash from the theater community.

    Someone else said that many of the commenters are "drama queens," and they're right on. This isn't Spec A&E - you're not getting a review that just says "X Show Brings Laughs, Entertainment to Lerner" and ultimately offers very little in the way of criticism. This is the same issue that was brought up after last year's Varsity Show, and it still stands. And at the end of the day, what is a review but an OPINION? Even though you can argue that Elizabeth may not have the technical acumen to accurately review every aspect of the show, from the lightning, to the choreography, to the directing, few people at Columbia have that sort of expertise outside the theater community.

    Basically, this review isn't meant for the theater community - it's meant for all the Columbia students, and THOSE are the people you're performing for. And if a layman didn't like certain aspects of the play, it's not appropriate to criticize them for not having an encyclopedic knowledge of theater in the comment section, as seems to be the case in every Bwog review.

    • I'm pretty sure  

      the problem is not having an opinion about the show but that said opinion includes things like Sean Walsh looks like Michael Cera and not more substantive things about the actual show. How does that help the greater Columbia community get a grasp of XMAS?

  21. Anonymous  

    It bothers me that editors at Bwog feel the need to publicly justify the work of their bloggers. Just own it, that's so shitty of you to make qualifications.

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