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Like this, but with the end of the world

XMAS!7 was performed only one night—Monday, December 10th at 8 PM and at 10:30 PM.  Kris Kringle-Crazed Mollie Krent reviews. 

Student directed, produced, choreographed, composed, and, most impressively, written, this show brought it. For those of you that failed to leave the dregs of Butler 209—first of all shame on you, I bet you were on Facebook; second of all, you failed to catch a clever, dark comedy about the last Christmas before the end of the world. The play centers around Jackie (Molly Heller JTS/GS ’15), a super mailwoman just trying to do her job and deliver all the packages before the world ends. She embarks on her quest with the help of some dope pals: a dense security maiden named Rhonda (Tessa Slovis BC ’13), Alice, a kick-ass, Katniss-wannabe orphan (Eleanor Bray BC ’14), and Patrick, an endearingly drunk Bostonian (Gray Henry CC’14). They encounter some bumps along the way–some evil orphans and Robin Hood and his merry men. The entire story is told through the character of a brash baller named Santa (Jack Walden CC ’14).

As I mentioned before, I am most stunned by the writing of this piece. The show was witty, smart, and sharp. It was bold. I would say loud, but there were some definite sound issues that made the songs hard to understand. It was more of a blending issue with the pit in most cases. The writing made each line exciting. However, though the line-to-line moments were awesome with some fantastic jokes and commitment to these jokes, the plot points did not totally add up to an arc. Big moments were totally glossed over—suddenly, the ever-important packages didn’t matter anymore. This came off as a decision and not as a moment of growth or  realization. I also would have loved to see more melodrama because the foundation for absolute absurdity was laid–it’s the end of the world! Someone should be going ape-shit. Also if it’s the end of the world, let’s not pantomime eating pizza that fell on the floor. If you’re gonna die anyway, you might as well have a final bite of glory.

That being said, Santa said it best: this show is about fun. Every small bump the show endured doesn’t really matter because it was fun. I went from this show straight back to Butler, so yeah, I needed some fun. I didn’t care that the songs felt like I had heard them before, because I was enjoying hearing them regardless. The quartet piece about love was particularly remarkable—greatly appreciated was the rhyming of ‘desire’ and ‘misfire.’ Great stage pictures! Choreography that matched the farce tone! Cool set (although at the same time though I would’ve like to see it progressively deteriorate as the world descends into madness)! All of that required some awesome behind the scenes work—yay student theatre!

The show, though lacking some momentum in plot, was driven by the intense energy of the characters. Jackie led the pack.  I liked her character from the start because of her overwhelming pep. She was exactly the kind of person I wanted to root for and wanted to follow through the story. But I knew once I hit her ballad, “Super Mailwoman,” it was love. She was a perfect parody of a protagonist in her awesome hammy moments when she felt the song build (the meta element of this show was also fantastic) or her self-aware moral announcements. Another beautiful example of an actor who knew more than her character but was able to stay entirely in her skin was Slovis’ Rhonda. Rhonda was a warm and dumb but fierce bodyguard. Her characterization was consistent and her humor always on.  Sophisticated acting in a light role.  Not to mention that voice. DAYUM, those riffs were awesome.

Alice, a much quieter (yet way more bad-ass) character, was equally as compelling. Bray’s subtle acting was stellar and set her character apart from everyone else on stage. Alice was vulnerable and in some ways, the most empathetic. I also loved Henry’s Patrick. With his obsession with Matt Damon, he was a fun stock-character to add into the mix. My favorite moment was when he sang his love ballad with Jackie. His vivacious gesturing during that song was a high point, as was his sultry low tone that made my jaw drop. While I would have wished there was more animation in the acting, he can still expect a Columbia Admirer’s post from me.

The show sparkled with individual performances that made it an incredibly enjoyable experience. It fulfilled its goal to a ‘t.’ The piece was held up by Santa. Even though he at times felt preachy, especially his last monologue, though while self-aware was a bit overwrought, was an off-kilter undercurrent that drove the dark comedy. Not an easy task, and it was done from a jaded, hilarious standpoint. Though it did seem as if Santa’s accent changed with every scene, his comedic timing was perfect and a joy. The master of comedy, however, had to be Postmaster Susan (Kaylin Mahoney CC ’15). She was incredible relief; her comedy was honest yet physical and I loved every line.

Sister Mary Margaret (Paulina Pinsky BC ’15) was also an incredible light from her singing about Judgment Day to the way she watched the rapture approach in near ecstasy. My favorite, though, had to be Robin Hood (Ethan Fudge CC’15) and his merry men (Alex Donelly CC ‘14 and Noel Gutierrez-Morfin CC ‘15). The mere presence of these characters onstage shows the apt writing of this piece, as the Robin Hood seed was planted early and slowly cultivated into a fantasy-satisfying tango number.  Awesome, confident writing! And kudos to the commitment of those tight-wearing, krumping men. They were beautifully characterized as being dropped into the wrong show and the wrong time period, and I was laughing the whole time.

Truly this show was wonderful on each level of its execution. Take its advice: it’s only finals. Just say nah-nah-nah and it’ll all be OK. At least it’s not the end of the world! (yet…)

PS: If you didn’t go, you missed a cameo by Deantini who was awesomely committed. It’s always moving to see the administration support student projects so strongly that they’re even willing to participate.

Artist’s depiction of Jack Walden via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Wow says:

    @Wow Anyone who knows anything about musical theater and saw this production can tell you that this review is completely off. After being so hyped up, I was excited to see such a talented cast perform a funny, entertaining piece. But instead I saw one of the worst shows I’ve seen in my 3 years at Columbia. The plot was almost nonexistent. The characters had almost no personalities; they weren’t even interesting enough to be caricatures. The jokes droned on and on and were very rarely funny. A very small portion of the audience was actually laughing, and most that did were close friends of those making the jokes onstage. The cast was talented and had strong voices, but the music did not show them off in the least. Only one-two of the songs were decent, and the rest were just loud with generic harmonies being belted out. One of the only truly comedic actors on stage, Eleanor Bray, was completely underused in a poorly written, boring role. Yes, some of the cast was talented, but because of the piece itself it really wasn’t so easy to tell. If this is what our community thinks is good or funny theater, we should probably be embarrassed of ourselves. That, or go back to middle school, which is where it seemed like XMAS7 was written.

    1. you're right says:

      @you're right but you should shut up and stop being a dick

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Yea, come on – each year the poor kids in XMAS see a scathing bwog review the morning after the show. don’t ruin this happy moment for them! The show has some shortcomings – but it was a amazing student effort and the audience was laughing like crazy. The audience had a great time – and that’s what matters!

    3. what says:

      @what You obviously have no idea what a “true comedic actor” is. Every single principle was a comedic pro. All four of the leads are known on campus for their work in Varsity show, improv, musical comedy etc.

      Also, the quartet was unbelievable, Eleanor and Tessa singing together was magic.

    4. Shaun says:

      @Shaun You are a cold-hearted coward. You’re clearly setting out to make your peers feel bad about months of work they put in to a show that’s supposed to be fun and light-hearted, yet you won’t even attach your name to it. Just because you’re stressed about finals doesn’t mean you can anonymously be a dick to your classmates. But that’s just my decent, human side talking so feel free to ignore it you lifeless Scrooge.

      Grow the fuck up and stop trashing your peers. This show wasn’t supposed to have an intricate plot and deep character development. It’s XMAS, not a god-damn professional production.

    5. personally... says:

      @personally... i appreciate the honest, critical review.

  • Lol says:

    @Lol U mad bro? Show was fucking awesome.

  • LOVED IT says:

    @LOVED IT Also the cast was fucking STACKED. Almost every single person on that stage has been in a varsity show or is in this upcoming varsity show it was insane seeing all of them up there together. Can you say star struck?

  • CC '13 says:

    @CC '13 Weird show. Not terrible, but every song was two verses too long and there were far too many unnecessary dance breaks; the show would have been tighter and funnier with some judicious cuts. Some solid laughs, a lot of good singing, generally clean staging. Plus, it looked like everyone onstage was having a good time, which is always great to see. I just wish there had been more Christmas, but that’s just me.

    LOVED Deantini.

  • Rega aka Xmas7's biggest fan says:

    @Rega aka Xmas7's biggest fan Just gonna say this since the reviewer didn’t: this comedic masterpiece was written Bob Bulfov, Eli Grober and Isabel Lopez, THE FUNNIEST PEOPLE I’VE EVER MET.

    Congratulations, homies. Thanks for a wonderful evening :)

  • Still Rega aka Xmas7's biggest fan says:

    @Still Rega aka Xmas7's biggest fan Bob VULFOV* with a V sorry I forgot how to type, that’s how much fun I had.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous What the fuck. This is the worst review I’ve ever read.

    “I liked her character from the start because of her overwhelming pep.”

    Really? That’s substantive review-worthy material? Maybe if we were in 7th grade…or at Princeton.

  • theater person says:

    @theater person This is a positive review and I’m happy to see that, but this is probably the worst written thing I’ve ever seen on Bwog.

    “It was bold.”

    “I” statements like I’ve never seen.

    This reads like the transcript from an AIM conversation between a 7th grade girl and Smarterchild.

    God…God save us all.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I kinda like it. It’s like the reviewer just stumbled out of the show (still drunk) and is explaining it to the guy at the halal cart. It is bold.

    1. theater person says:

      @theater person touché…especially this, uh, thing:

      “The piece was held up by Santa. Even though he at times felt preachy, especially his last monologue, though while self-aware was a bit overwrought, was an off-kilter undercurrent that drove the dark comedy.”

      write drunk, edit…never.

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