If the thought of sitting through yet another production of A Christmas Carol makes you cringe, read on. If having to watch the Grinch makes feel far too much like the title character, or the prospect of seeing a performance of It's a Wonderful Life is not so wonderful, or you are tired of the eternally upbeat Frosty the Snowman, then the Phoenix Stage Company has found the perfect show to make you laugh during this holiday season. Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some) is a riotous send up of all these "beloved Christmas stories" and much more. There is only enough of each classic that even the most jaded will be able to tolerate the bit, and those of us who love them will laugh at their absurdity.
I was pleased to be able to invite myself to the final dress rehearsal of the final show of the season and instead of sitting by myself in the audience, there were several other patrons who came out on the night before Thanksgiving. Frequent performers Heather Graham (Murdered to Death, Peter Cottontail) and Rick Dufresne (Last Supper, Writer's Cramp) laughed throughout the show, as did other Phoenix family and friends; the three cast members must have enjoyed hearing the audience's reaction for the first time. I laughed so hard that I missed some of the lines and I look forward to seeing it again with my school friends so that I can catch them. Not that I expect any two performances will be exactly the same in this improv-filled extravaganza.
Director Tim Phillips has put his comic stamp on this show and even did some very funny voice-over work, and the three stars took the scripted lines and brought them to another level of hilarity. The show is a mixture of vignettes that include the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Grinch, Rudolph, Christmas Around the World, George Bailey, a fruitcake game show, Frosty and oh yes, Dicken's A Christmas Carol. There are many pop culture riffs and even one nod to Murdered to Death. The wonderful running gags are hard to resist and I won't spoil them for the reader.
The three talented actors, a truly unholy trio, are all amazing. In this show they work together seamlessly and feed off each other as a fine comedy troupe should. Ed Bassett is at his comedic best in the role of the traditionalist. What he can say with just a look is hysterical. Wise guy Ian Diedrich reminded me of his role as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, as he speeded his way through a ridiculous number of costume changes. Fearless Rob Richnavsky, the traditionalist/wise guy, shines in all of the huge number of characters that he takes on in this show and it was perfect that "Jesus" in The Last Supper was chosen to recite the bible verse as "Linus" in Charlie Brown Christmas.
Technically, this show is very well done, but since I am working without a program, I am unable to credit the correct people. The traditional Christmas Carol set works well as the background for this crazy mixture of scenes. The numerous costumes needed are just perfect, as are the huge number of props required to make the show work that I suspect were done by Lori Poulin. Lighting and sound cues (worked by Donna Storms) added to a production that never disappoints.
From the opening prerecorded announcement where Mr. Bassett is teased about the length of his usual announcements and partner Agnes Dann is referenced, to the final bows, this show is a winner. I call it the funniest comedy I have ever seen at the Phoenix, and I have seen them all. There were a few naughty parts, but they were extremely mild and didn't offend the kids in the audience at the rehearsal. Call the box office for tickets and don't miss this comedy event of the year.
Preview of Every Christmas Story
Event listing on Patch