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Shalom Alone: XMAS! Review

A Jewish Santa? It must be XMAS!Taking a break from finals studying, Bwog’s North Pole Bureau Chief Sean Zimmermann reports from the production of “XMAS! 4: Shalom Alone” last night about the story of one little Jewish Santa:

As the audience walked in to Roone, the first thing to notice was the loud dance music filling the auditorium. Lady Gaga, who usually isn’t associated with holiday cheer, was a surprising choice and a stark contrast to the musicians warming up wearing Santa hats. However, “surprising” is indeed a good overall characterization of the musical. Surprising due to its very small budget, surprising due to its limited showings, and surprising due to just how good it turned out to be.

Ollie Klausberg, played by Brian LaPerche, opened the musical by giving a reading from the Torah during his Bar Mitzvah. However, the nervous Ollie wets himself while reading and runs off stage. After being comforted by his pagan friend Amethyst (Emily Feinstein), an elf named Marty (Reni Calister) greets Ollie and informs him that he is the grandson of Santa and needs to travel to the North Pole. Ollie, after some encouragement from Amethyst, agrees.

When Ollie and Amethyst arrive at North Pole City, they learn that it is not the perfect world of childhood fantasies. Prancer (Zach Ludin) is upset because everyone thinks he is gay, the toymaker Virgin Mary (Emily Wallen) is upset because she is still a virgin, and Joe the Intern Elf (David Offit) is upset because Marty treats him poorly.

Ollie then learns that Santa, played brilliantly by Michael Abraham, has gone insane, and he needs to take over. After working for Santa for hundreds of years, Marty becomes furious at Ollie for being chosen successor and attempts to sabotage him. Meanwhile, Ollie’s Jewish mother, Karen (Ilana Rice), becomes worried and hires the cavalier Captain Ernest Shackleton to help her travel to the North Pole. On the way, they encounter the dapperly dressed penguin, Preston P. Pennington (Alex Hare), who competes with Ernest to woo the anxious mother.

The script by John Goodwin and Nina Pedrad was funny, thoroughly entertaining, and filled with memorable moments. Incorrectly programmed Christmas robots were the basis for a notable scene when they began to perform an African dance while celebrating Kwanzaa. One of the robots, Kwanzaa-Bot (Alia Munsch), even becomes the love interest for the insane Santa. Another memorable moment comes when Virgin Mary and the intern Joe fall in love. Mary comments, “Thank God we found each other.” To which Joe replies, “Jesus Christ I know!” The show also references previous “XMAS!” productions: Charlie Brown, a character from last year’s show, arrives to help the citizens of North Pole City form a ring onstage.

The music and lyrics, written by Matt Starr and Benjamin Weiner, were also well done. Though all of the shows musical numbers were strong, a few that stood out. “I’m Not a Man Today,” sung by Ollie as he fails his Torah reading, garnered many laughs, as did the Kwanzaa robot song. “It’s a North Pole City Day,” in which everyone explained why they were unhappy, was exceptionally well done; the individual monologues mixed in with the chorus showcased the cast’s musical abilities.

In a production that ultimately ended up being much better than the last Varsity Show, and using just a fraction of the budget, “XMAS! 4: Shalom Alone,” directed by Ameneh Bordi, was one of the best shows Columbia has offered in the recent past. Regardless of what the Catholic League says.

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  • anonymous says:

    @anonymous 7 of this year’s Varsity Show C-Team were on XMAS this year—a foreshadow of success?

    1. and says:

      @and 6 of this year’s Varsity Show cast members!

  • Hey says:

    @Hey I still have the Captain Ernest Shackleton song stuck in my head! It didn’t hurt that the guy who played him has a nice body. and a nice voice!

    Also the penguin waddling made me happy!

    Congrats to everyone involved in Xmas this year, it was fantastic!

  • XMAS says:

    @XMAS was the most exciting, heartwarming, and thoroughly fun student-written show I’ve ever seen. Congrats to all who worked on it–you deserve to be proud. And since it seems 13 people are crossing over from this to the Varsity Show, I am looking forward to big things come May!

  • XMAS says:

    @XMAS topped off an amazing season of Columbia student theatre so kudos to all. Somehow two shows tackled the hell that is Roone successfully with this and Secret Garden, two classic shows were revived to create contemporary relevance with Othello and Electra, two student written productions demonstrated the true creativity of Columbia students with ReImagined and Love Story…, and then Batboy was just fucking awesome. Well done all! I look forward to next semester’s Varsity Show, as well as everything else that will be presented.

  • Reni Callister says:

    @Reni Callister Was just so good.



  • Yay says:

    @Yay Everyone was so great in this. The set was awesome, best use of foam board I’ve ever seen. Lights were great too. The props were so funny.

    The actors were all adorable.

  • soooo good. says:

    @soooo good. Everything about this show was amazing. The jokes were perfectly written and perfectly executed. So much talent involved! Michael Abraham as Santa: greatest. thing. ever. Brian LaPerche: adorable! CONGRATS!!

    AND the cookies at their numerous bake sales were delicious. could you ask for more?

  • Wow says:

    @Wow Michael Abraham was just fucking incredible. Alex Hare was hilarious. Brooks is damn hot.

  • More like Babe-raham says:

    @More like Babe-raham I love Michael Abraham

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Amazing! Quite possibly the best thing I have seen at Columbia.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I liked it, and I wasn’t even drunk.


    Anyway, I can’t wait for VShow after seeing this!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Hail to the robot! Alia Munsch was a beautiful, hilarious, and magnificent dancer. That toy would go off the shelves for sure! Word.

    1. Truth. says:

      @Truth. That girl was so good, her dance was awesome. I love when a role other than the lead lights up the stage like that, it really shows the talent of the entire cast. Way to go, everyone! Amazing production.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Reni Callister was incredible. Hilarious. Memorable. Her evil laughter, anyone? Spot on!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous that set was so much fun! the X on the tree, concealed by the wreath/5th golden ring = genius!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous yay Cayle!!

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous CAYLE IS AMAZING

  • Nina & John says:

    @Nina & John Special thanks to Erica Drennan and Sam Reisman, two of the writers from last year’s Varsity Show, for helpful script advice.

  • Huge fan says:

    @Huge fan No penguin will ever or can ever waddle better than Alex Hare. One of the most talented freshmen Columbia has.

  • XMAS says:

    @XMAS was AMAZING this year. Most of the stuff was genius — like the Kwanzaa robot dance, the penguin, and the French Hens. (Also the costumes were SOO good!!!) I was blown away especially after seeing it in the past. BEST XMAS EVER

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