"It's a Wonderful Santa Land..." (Street Tempo): Entertaining Hodge Podge of Merriment

"It's a Wonderful Santa Land..." (Street Tempo):  Entertaining Hodge Podge of Merriment

Street Tempo presents IT’S A WONDERFUL SANTA LAND MIRACLE NUT CRACKING CHRISTMAS STORY... JEWS WELCOME.  What’s in a name?  For this show, the title is the synopsis.  Nothing says Christmas like cookies, egg nog, puppets, snow ball fights, and getting leis. IT’S A WONDERFUL SANTA LAND MIRACLE NUT CRACKING CHRISTMAS STORY... JEWS WELCOME is a stocking stuffer!

The energetic ensemble greetsthe audience with freshly baked cookies.  Before the show even starts, the vibe is pure holiday spirit as the friendly cast share their goodies.  The performers are already having fun and their enthusiasm is definitely amusing. The musical variety show starts like a contemporary “Glee” meets vintage “Laugh-In.”   It’s plenty of schmaltz and lots of heart.  The show features original music and sketches by the ensemble. One of my favorites was a puppet bit about holidays.  The clever dialogue between the holidays is hilarious.  Another big moment is the entire 15 member ensemble as a choir singing about gluten-free and vegans in “Food Gospel.” The lyrics are a hoot.  The delivery is angels-we-have-heard-on-high glorious.

An unexpected moment of splendor was “Is Love Alive” sung and signed by Amanda McWorter, Molly Todd, Arielle Goodman, Matthew Payne.  In the overall zany burlesque style hoopla, the quartet deliver a lovely message of hope.  It’s a delightful pause. In addition, a momentary break from the wacky was the transfixing “Doll Maker Dance.” The lead dancer, Jessica Bliss-McVay was stunning.  Although the idea behind “Cooking with Elves” was ingenious, the execution was sloppy.  Literally, they are trying to make a mess but the delivery needs to be sharper for optimal hilarity.

Overall, the show could be tighter and slicker.  Some of the comedy bits are forced clunkiness. In particular, “Who’s on first” and some of the solo narrations fall flat. It’s like a hard candy Christmas when you all you wanted was a chocolate-covered one.

Still, IT’S A WONDERFUL SANTA LAND MIRACLE NUT CRACKING CHRISTMAS STORY... JEWS WELCOME is an entertaining hodge-podge of merriment.  I certainly left the theatre with fa-la-la-la-la in my step and Mele Kalikimaka in my head.

Running Time:  One hour and forty minutes includes an intermission

At Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont

Created and performed by the ensemble and Ryan Brewster, Chris Gorton, Reeny Hofricter, Katie Johnston-Smith, Sam Lewis, Brian Posen, Jack Short, Ranjit Souri, Jill Valentine

Directed by Brian Posen

Musically directed by Jack Short

Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm

Sundays at 3pm

Thru December 30th

Buy Tickets at www.stage773.com

Production photograph courtesy of Brian Work.

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