Theater Anecdotes, Anyone? Also, New reviews of Stations, Santasia and Camp Sunday
Boom Kat Dance Theatre's production of Stations at Santa Monica's Miles Memorial Playhouse landed this week's stage Pick;also recommended are the Whitefire Theatre's Santasia in Sherman Oaks, and the Groundlings' Camp Sunday. See all the reviews after the jump.
Call for Anecdotes: If you're a theater-maker (actor, designer, playwright, director, producer, stage-manager, etc) and you experienced or witnessed any oddities on or off stage worth mentioning in an upcoming column, can you please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, check out this coming week's 2011 roundup. Happy holidays.
GO CAMP SUNDAY In one of the best shows this reviewer has seen at Groundlings in a while, director Mitch Silpa's cast of comedians does a bang-up job with a slate of 17 sketches, complemented by excellent writing. What's impressive about this show is that Silpa and the cast consistently extract comedic tinder from the most commonplace scenarios, while including some over-the-top material -- a Groundlings show trademark. Even the customary improv segments were on the mark. The laughs in "Signs From God" emerge when a Pentecostal preacher's sermon is given a warped sign-language interpretation by an aide. "Good Hair" has Navaris Darson as a gay patron of a beauty salon whose hair is given special treatment by novice beautician Misty Monroe. And "Jet All the Way" is a riotously funny send-up of the fight scene from West Side Story. Groundlings Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave.; Sun., 7: 30 p.m.; thru Jan. 15. (323) 934-4747, Groundlings.com. (Lovell Estell III)
GO SANTASIA Preshow snow and steaming cups of spiced apple cider in the lobby are only the beginning of the frivolous fun at the 12th annual production of this gleefully goofy holiday comedy. The brainchild of brothers Shaun and Brandon Loeser, this all-guy sketch show includes a send-up of the three wise men, a screaming family's Christmas dinner and a priceless striptease by the unabashed cast. Riffs on an Eminem rap and a Mafioso-style Santa-run operation are only a few of the repeats from past shows, but the intensely silly material never gets old. Interspersed with the staged shenanigans are short films -- Brokeback Igloo, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Santasia Tides and Pulp Christmas, to name a few -- that add hilarious yuletide twists to a few Hollywood blockbusters and feature some classic claymation. Monologues summarizing each cast member's favorite Christmas memory add a sweet touch to the lunacy, as does a collection of onstage, fully lighted Christmas trees and a house aglow with kitschy lights and real-life Loeser family memories. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Dec. 24. (800) 838-3006, santasia.com, whitefiretheatre.com. (Amy Lyons)
PICK OF THE WEEK: STATIONS
In this modern dance narrative, director Lili Fuller offers us a holly jolly, hip-hoppy Christmas. And one thing's for sure: Your granny's creaky Nutcracker this ain't. Told entirely through balletic jazz, accompanied by Parmer Fuller's jazzy score, Stations tells a kaleidoscopic tale of holiday spirit, focused through the prism of the current dreary economy. A young husband (Andrew Dits) and his pregnant bride (Juliana Tyson) leave a gift for a kindly homeless woman (Diana Vaden) -- an act of good karma that garners future benefits when they find themselves out of work and are forced to make their home in a bus shelter. The amiable young cast assay balletic and breakdance-style moves with energy and passion: Vaden offers a beautifully jazzy turn as the homeless woman, while Nathan Parsons delights as an acrobatically shambolic drunken Santa. Although the plot is occasionally hard to follow -- the result of a tendency to balletic whimsy that sometimes comes across as awkward -- the work's artful mix of tight choreography and energetic performances makes for a genial, upbeat holiday mood. The finale tableau, an image of strangers coming together to help the homeless parents at their bus-barn manger, offers a powerful, Nativity-like image. Boom Kat Dance at Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 30. (310) 202-9229, boomkatdance.org (Paul Birchall)