SONORA -- It must be hard for entertainers who perform the same holiday shows year after year. They get tired of doing "A Christmas Carol" or "The Nutcracker," but they carry on because that's what the public wants.
Every once in a while some will mix things up by doing something new, as Sierra Repertory Theatre is doing with the comedy skit show "Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)" The company would have been better off sticking to tradition, or dropping a holiday show.
As directed by Marc Liby and performed by cast members Tommy J. Dose, J.D. Kellman and Ty Smith, the show felt thrown together and barely rehearsed at Saturday night's performance (the second weekend in the show's five-week run). It was like watching your brother and his friends goof off and joke about the holidays. It might be mildly funny at home, but it's certainly not worth paying admission to see.
Written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, the show features short skits sending up "BHCs" (beloved holiday classics) such as "The Grinch," "Frosty The Snowman," "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Charlie Brown's holiday special, plus informational tidbits about Christmas traditions around the world.
Dose, Kellman and Smith drag audience members up on stage to perform in the skits with them and scold the crowd if they don't laugh at their tired puns. They try to engage the audience with silly facial expressions and forced antics, but don't seem to have much fun themselves.
I found the first act a test of endurance. If I weren't the reviewer, I would have left at intermission, which would have been a shame, because the second act was the best part of the show. That's when the cast performs an extended mash-up of "A Christmas Carol" and "It's A Wonderful Life."
That scene did seem well thought out and did get a lot of laughs. When Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol" visits with the ghost of Christmas past, instead of seeing scenes from his own life, he sees a young George Bailey from "Wonderful Life" working at the pharmacy and flirting with girls. There are some great impersonations of Jimmy Stewart, Clarence the Angel and Donna Reed (performed by an actor in drag).
The clever medley at the end of the show also is a winner. The cast sings snippets of dozens of holiday songs while dancing all over the stage.
Like most Sierra Rep sets, this one (designed by Jordan Egbertson) is a beauty. It features a street scene with a holiday window display, pub and office, and a big moon in the sky.
It's too bad most of the comedy falls flat. This lackluster show makes you miss those tried-and-true holiday classics and wish you would have just stayed at home and watched them on DVD instead.
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan Renner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2313.
'Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)'
RATING: * *
WHERE: Sierra Repertory Theatre, 13891 Mono Way, Sonora
WHEN: Through Dec. 16; 2 p.m. Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
RUNNING TIME: 2 hours, including an intermission
TICKETS: $18 children, $20 students, $24-$28 seniors, $24-$30 general
INFORMATION: (209) 532-3120 or www.sierrarep.org
* * * * Excellent; * * * Good; * * Fair; * Poor