Charleston Alley Theatre puts on unconventional Christmas show


Aja Taylor

Marie Jazuiak,Rachel Anderson,Thomas Maennen and aduience member play themselves in Every Christmas Story Ever at the Chareston Ally Theater on Satrday

Cassie Buchman , Staff Reporter

The play “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And then Some)” started off normally enough, when actor Thomas MacMullen came out on stage reading the beginning of “A Christmas Carol.”

He was quickly interrupted, however, by fellow actor Rachel Anderson, who said she “couldn’t do another Christmas Carol,” instead opting for a new take on holiday favorites.

This interruption set the scene for the rest of the show, a set of abridged versions of many different Christmas shows.

The actors even broke the fourth wall during their performance, such as when they asked audience members what came to mind when they thought of Christmas. Answers included “the birth of Jesus,” the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Christmas vacation.”

They also had audience members participate in the show when they had a girl from the audience play “Cindy-Lou-Who” from “The Grinch” and when a woman come on stage for a fruitcake trivia game.

The actors all took part in their own version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” this time calling it “Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat.”

Although they used a different animal and name for this version of Rudolph, the basic theme and plot of the story remained unchanged, with Gustav being excluded from the other reingoats because of his green nose and even an elf that wanted to be a dentist.

The elf and Gustav ended up going to what they said was “a place where everyone’s a freak, even the mayor — Mattoon.”

References such as these kept the audience engaged and attentive throughout the show.

Between stories, one actor came out to tell the audience about Christmas traditions in other countries while the others got ready backstage.

Along with Christmas stories, the show was filled with references to classic Christmas staples such as the fruitcake.

“Fruitcake is like the polka,” actor Marie Jozwiak said. “Many like it, but few are willing to admit it.”

This fruitcake talk turned into a game about fruitcake, set up like a regular television game show complete with cue cards with the word “Applause” on it.

The game took a comical turn when actor Tom MacMullen was asked whether he believed in Santa Claus and had to explain to the audience why he did not.

“I had no idea you were so Santa Claustrophobic,” Jozwiak said.

In the second act of the show, MacMullen was finally able to perform “A Christmas Carol,” though not without another interruption.

During the part of “A Christmas Carol” where Scrooge (played by MacMullen) was supposed to be met by the ghost of his old partner Jacob Marley, (played by Rachel Anderson) Anderson instead came on stage dressed as the angel from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Anderson said this was because they forgot about it during the first act.

The actors continued to perform at the same time, with MacMullen playing both Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey, or “Ebenezer Bailey” as the cast called him.

Along with the mash up of these holiday classics, the actors also portrayed reporters covering the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with Anderson reprising the character Gustav the Green Nosed ReinGoat, this time as a parade float.

The play ended with the cast coming out to sing a Christmas song, which combined many of the familiar Christmas carols including “Carol of the Bells” and “Feliz Navidad.”

The audience left the play in a good mood, ready to venture out and see the rest of what Christmas in the Heart of Charleston had to offer.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]