"A Very Phoenix Xmas

Phoenix Theatre

Directed and conceived by Bryan Fonseca

Through Dec. 23

The Phoenix Theatre tried something new this year for the holidays. They gave a call out to writers for short scripts, chose the best and created a montage of skits, grouped under the heading A Very Phoenix Xmas.

Overall, it’s amusing, if not always laugh-out-loud funny. The exception is “Kansas” by Matthew Roland, which is completely outrageous and worth the ticket price alone. Not only is Roland’s script a scream, but Michael Shelton, Scot Greenwell and Stephen Hunt take the search for a “personal fragrance” and chew scenery with it.

Other highlights are Matrix-inspired ping-pong in “O Holy Night” (the effect is really well-achieved), the “Tacobel Canon,” the song “Don’t Eat the Baby” by Jack O’Hara (Shelton jams out about the manger animals wanting to take a bite out of Christ), “The AT&T Commercial” by Peggy Platt (four people on the phone suddenly realize they have something in common: the girlfriend coming home for dinner) and “Man Overboard” by Jonathan Graham (which recognizes Talk Like a Pirate Day … Sept. 19, if you want to know).

Oh yes, and “Holiday Jeopardy,” where yours truly got called up on stage with three others to play. Yikes. I choked so hard I couldn’t even come up with the name “Galadriel.”

Other segments include “The View from Here” by Dianne Corimer (a talk show featuring popular hosts and Hermey the Elf), the strange “Death of a Snowman” by Jack O’Hara (a riff on Death of a Salesman that didn’t quite work), the flat, in more ways than one, “The First Christmas … After Gravity Got All Screwed Up” by Lou Harry, “A Few Kind Words” by Chris Saunders (being PC at Christmastime), “Thanksgiving/New Year’s Sue Christmastime for Alienation of Affection and Trespassing” by Joan and L.I. Rapkin (about Christmas taking over all other winter holidays), the way too long but funny “Disco Nativity” by Scott Warrender and the unintelligible “A Midwinter’s Night-Life Dream, Charlie Brown” by Tony McDonald (that bashes Wiccans and the other local theaters. Come on, Tony, did you really have to call Diana the “Christmas whore”?).

The cast takes it in all in stride, creating a versatile ensemble that also includes Sara Riemen, Emily Ristine and Gayle Steigerwald under Bryan Fonseca’s direction.

Remember, the Phoenix has a bar downstairs, and a lot of what I found only mildly amusing while completely sober could turn into something hilarious after a few drinks.

A Very Phoenix Xmas continues through Dec. 23. Tickets are $25, $15 for those 24 and under. For reservations, call the Phoenix, 749 N. Park Ave., at 317-635-PLAY. Check out the silent auction that is going on now in the lobby, and the art gallery located in the Basile Theatre downstairs.



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