By Tiffany Hudson
Everybody does A Christmas Carol, but no one does it quite like Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. With appearances from George Bailey, Charlie Brown, Cincy Lou Who, and Gustov the Green-Nosed Reingoat (due to copyrights,) it’s the holiday party you won’t want to miss.
While I’ve never actually watched A Christmas Carol—well aside from Mickey’s version—there’s no doubt it’s a holiday classic. In my family, no Christmas is complete unless we spend 97-minutes with the Griswolds. You can imagine, then, my delight walking into the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company theatre for their annual comedy, Every Christmas Story Ever Told. Part improv, part holiday classic, part vermouth (for the martinis, of course), this show is a recipe that outdoes even my grandmother’s Christmas cookies.
The program begins with a very serious Sarah Clark, decked in a top hat and overcoat, dramatically blowing dust off a large volume of Dickens. Her opening scene is interrupted and the production quickly derailed by Justin McCombs. Tangled in his costume chains, McCombs begs “not again…,” making the case for all the other BHCs (beloved holiday classics) that make the season great. From here, the show veers into the ridiculous.
The writing is sharp and the cast quick, jumping from one Christmas story to the next without skipping a beat, even throwing in the best pop culture references of the year. It felt like banter between Rory and Lorelai–a reference the show couldn’t pass up with the revival of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life last month.
Billy Chace in ‘Every Christmast Story Ever Told.’ Photo provided by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
The show was wildly entertaining and I owe a public apology to anyone next to me who heard me snort from laughing so hard. The local references were perfectly played: Whos in Whoville with their WHO DEYs and the misfit toys relegated to Kentucky. My personal favorite? Billy Chace’s mention of OTR-inspired game Hungry, Hungry Hipsters.
And while the cast does a great rendition of A Charlie Brown Christmas, don’t assume this is a show for the whole family. Full of double-entendres and raunchy jokes, it might be best to leave the kids at home for this one. Another warning: you’re not safe from ridicule from Miranda McGee as Santa, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a front-row seat.
The return from intermission is short, yet just as impressive. Clark finally gets her opportunity to put on A Christmas Carol–just not quite the way she planned. The show concludes with a mashup of all the Christmas carols and every holiday song; you’d have to see and hear it to believe it!
Tickets are not easy to come by, though. This show often sells out, despite not being included in the season subscription pack. By its 11th production, I would say the cast has nailed it.
Tiffany Hudson is a regular at Coffee Emporium, the Marketing Specialist at ArtsWave, and chalkboard artist at the local watering hole, The Drinkery. Want to talk about how much you love art and/or Cincinnati? Drop her a line at email@example.com.