The Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte (ATC) brings the purely comedic “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)” to the local stage. If you’re tired of “A Christmas Carol” every year, and you really love extremely silly, upbeat shows, this might be the one for you. The show opened Dec. 1 and continues through Dec. 18.
The play is very high-paced and packs in a vast amount of content into two hours of a superficially entertaining show. Though it’s clearly not every Christmas story ever told, it’s not that far off either, and it might not be an exaggeration to say the volume of content is near equal.
Three actors play characters who are themselves actors. Chip is fixed on repeating an age-old classic but his co-stars mutiny and instead improvise an entire series of Christmas stories. What follows are countless comedic characters, mini-plots and props. The first moments are very slow but the action rapidly accelerates to a blazing speed until intermission. The entire show consists of the actors exiting and entering the stage as different characters in different costumes and they do it without missing a beat.
As Maret says in the play, it can be an entertaining show whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Hannukah or Chanukah. Faith is irrelevant to the value of this production, but it’s extremely dependent on individual taste. With varying portions of slapstick, adult (some slightly profane innuendo coming from a snowman) and child humor, along with a dose of winter holiday excitement, this production will appeal to some and repulse others. ATC recommends the play for ages 13 and older, but it might be better suited for ages 4-13, simply because children tend to be more entertained by this brand of comedy.
A highlight of the production is its fantastic audience involvement at various points. This feature has its potential drawbacks but if its premiere is any indication, it won’t be a problem for ATC. A particularly witty, and initially reluctant, audience member hauled onto stage made for a couple big laughs, but the whole audience played an important role in the overall success of the show. Luckily, audience members had great energy and were very responsive to the cast. Speaking of which, it’s worth noting that regardless of some of the faults of the play, the cast had a nearly full audience laughing heartily throughout the whole show.
It’s fair to say that “Every Christmas Story” is high quantity, low quality. It’s designed to deliver quick laughs in even quicker succession and ATC does a brilliant job of that. As far as this type of production goes, there can’t be much better.
Without a doubt, ATC and its as-usual stellar cast and crew are not to be blamed. The cast and director both do a remarkable job given what they’re working with. Actors Joe Klosek, Maret Decker Seitz, Chip Bradley and director Craig Spradley all receive high marks for this show.
In the end, this production is perfectly tailored for those who want something a bit different this year. If you’re not in the mood for the same old rendition of [insert classic holiday tale], then “Every Christmas Story” is just for you.
“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!),” written by Michael Carleton, Jim Fitzgerald & John K. Alvarez with original music by Will Knapp, runs through Dec. 18. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit actorstheatrecharlotte.org. : :