Bwog’s Holiday Cheer Leader Peter Sterne reports.
As the first snowfall (flurries don’t count) of the year descended into Morningside Heights last night, students gathered on the Lerner Ramps and outside Roone, eager to see the latest edition of XMAS!, the VShow-like student-run musical that’s been satirizing the holiday season for the last five years. When the audience was finally let into Roone, they found the speakers blared the Maccabeats’ “Candlelight.” It was an interesting introduction to a show that spent the next two hours poking fun at corporate culture, hipsters, Jews, gays, and New Jersey, before tying it all up with the saccharine moral that XMAS is for everyone and it will always be around.
The show begins in a boardroom in XMAS, Inc., where recently hired hotshot executive William (Andrew Wright, CC ’14) is upstaging power-mad CEO Thurston Wallace I (Thomas Spry, CC ’14), who bought Christmas from Santa Claus back in the 1980s. Spry channels Jacobim Mugatu more than Gordon Gekko in his portrayal of Thurston, and the camp he brings to his character’s prima-donna personality and deliciously evil scheming are a delight to watch onstage. Once he decides that William may be a threat, he forces his poor elf assistant, Sprinkles (the phenomenal Emily Wallen, BC ’11), to lure him to a warehouse in Hoboken.
Though she’s only a supporting actor, Wallen is really the heart and soul of this play. She shines during the musical performances, effortlessly able to command the stage during a solo. More importantly, she brings an endearing awkward schtick to her character Sprinkles, who’s torn between her good conscience and the realities of working for XMAS, Inc. Surely, some of Sprinkles’ charm comes courtesy of brilliant writers (“What else can I do? Merrill Lynch isn’t exactly hiring elves and I can’t join the military because of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Telf!’”). But it is Wallen’s delivery that brings her character alive. Even when she tricks William and locks him the Hoboken warehouse, the audience remains sympathetic to her plight.
In the warehouse, William meets others that Thurston has locked away, including the cute but assertive Tooth Fairy (Arielle Diktowich,Teachers College ’11), a pessimistic Easter Bunny (Nick Bloom, CC ’13), Paula the Purple-Nosed Reindeer suffering from a split septum (Sara Lederman, BC ’12), the annoying hipster activist Benetha Africa (Emily Feinstein, BC ’13), a mischievous leprechaun (Rachel Bronstein, BC ’13), and a sassy Grinch (the fabulous Will Hughes, CC ’13). Swaggering and prancing across the stage, Hughes had the audience in stitches when he announced that “My heart’s not the only thing that grew three sizes.”
In the basement of XMAS headquarters, they discover a washed-up Santa (Ben Weiner, CC ’11) living with a woman he believes is Mrs. Claus, but who in fact is just a sexy blonde actress (the very saucy Amelia Lembeck, BC ’14) hired by Thurston to keep Santa oblivious to the changes he has made to Christmas. The constant innuendo in the scenes between Weiner and Lembeck titillated and delighted the audience, and one of funniest moments of the play comes when Santa hints that he knows Michelle isn’t really Mrs. Claus, prompting Lenbeck to ask innocently, “But Santa, if you knew this whole time, why didn’t you say anything?”
In the climactic final scene, the XMAS Board of Directors votes for Thurston to remain CEO, but Santa uses the “Claus Clause” (a joke that has never been used before) to overrule them and give the job to William, who has now learned the true importance of Christmas. He then makes Sprinkles the “XMAS Keeper of Tradition”, and appoints “ruthless, heartless, and not very nice” Thurston the mayor of Chicago. In the end, of course, everyone breaks into song and sings that XMAS is for everyone and it will always be around.