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