nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
December 6, 2012
This is not just a show about naked people or about celebrating the holidays. End Times Productions has presented variations on this theme for the past six years, and this time there is some excellent music, choral singing, dancing, friendly monsters, malevolent snowmen, with a naked limbo finale. Of course it's all about the holidays too, why they might depress you or perhaps why you may want to die fighting to defend Christmas. And yes, there is a lot of nudity and comedy, so it's not for children.
Through 19 sketches, the supercharged ensemble sets out to spread holiday cheer or perish. The funniest piece for me was, "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Holidays" in which a news team is trying to do a holiday broadcast while Marxist guerillas fight a literal "war on Christmas". In "The Weredeer", a man is cursed to transform into a murderous deer, who when shot by country folk reverts to his naked human self. "Dad Came Out This Christmas" is a delightful song about shedding a lifetime of lies and enjoying the season for once. In "The Streaking Sketch" the men are off to run naked around Rockefeller Center but they remind the women why they can't come along: naked women are only funny if they're fat. Wow, it's a terrible stereotype but the women have something much more interesting to do while the men are away. "The Big Toy Chest" is a self-conscious "elfxploitation" parody about those happy holiday workers who want to escape from their miserable fate. "Santa's Bad Trip" is a dazzling hallucination wherein St. Nick sees sexy dancers and flying, blacklit puppets. "The Worst Jews in the World" is a tribute to that tribe whom thespians also refer to as "our producers". Two Jewish women are arguing over who is less observant, but they rebuke their Catholic friend for feeling wretched since apparently his religion is founded on original sin anyway. Only when they realize that Hitler may have been Jewish through matrilineal descent do they start to feel better about themselves. "I've Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm" is a sensual vocal performance from Alesandra Nahodil and Jarrod Bates. To end it all off, the show's musical director Serena Miller declares in "The Naked People Play" that she has gotten used to all the naked people running around and playing in her apartment. Perhaps this is to say that she has decided never to let the holidays hurt her again, although at the very end she is dragged away to the madhouse screaming something about naked people.
Well, it's certainly a sexy show and an entertaining one, too. Director Russell Dobular has given the people what they want, but not gratuitously. Tiffany Herrioett's choreography is outstanding, as are the surprise violin solos and fine vocal harmonies. The large cast display lots of courage as well as openheartedness and a sense of being at home in their bodies.