From left, Zach
Thomas Woods, Gage Patterson and Anna Otto in
In Tandem Theatre’s production of “Merry
In Tandem Theatre
has a reputation for offering alternate shows at
Christmas time. After many years of success with the
inimitable "A Cudahy Caroler Christmas," the company has
turned to a variety of slightly or not-so-slightly
bizarre holiday fare. "Eight Reindeer Monologues,"
"Scrooge in Rouge" and "Holiday Hell" are three past
This year, not to
be outdone, the off-kilter humor of Anthony Wood brings
us "Merry Chris-Mess," a collection of sketches and
songs. Lee Becker, Chris Flieller, and Sean McKenna
also added material.
Shades of the
Cudahy show are evident in the changing of the lyrics of
traditional carols, such as "I'm Dreamin' of a White
Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman," and "O Come All Ye
Faithful." My favorite was "Plonski the Towman," but
nothing quite matches "O Bowling Night," for "O Holy
Night," as witnessed in the "Cudahy Caroler Christmas."
Some of the
sketches are quite short, such as "Lucky Boy Cigarette
Commercial," but others are longer such as the elves'
uprising in "Look for the Union Label," which was
clever. Chris Flieller, ever a reliable comedian,
entertained us immensely with his delivery of "Secret
Santa Man," aping Johnny Rivers in the process.
One of the
biggest hits is "Who's a Good Boy," starring Sean Duncan
as Rex, and joined by Jocelyn Ridgely as Sasha, Chris
Flieller as Ralph, Zach Thomas Woods as Nipper and Liz
Shipe as Mitzie. All five created a very believable
dog-fest. Dogs are so predictable, unlike humans, which
may be one of the reasons we love them.
intermission, the play featured a parody on "It's a
Wonderful Life," the classic story starring Jimmy
Stewart, with their version: "It's a Life." Zach Thomas
Woods has Stewart's vocal style down pat, but his
personality is quite different. This man is quite the
comic actor. His faithful wife Mary is well-played by
Jocelyn Ridgely, a woman who stands by her man Ñ no
matter how pitiful he is.
Maybe the show
went a tad too far at times with all the physical humor
and the excessive flatulence of the bad guy, Mr. Potter,
but by and large, it was well-done and quite amusing.
Flieller is very skilled at pulling all the crazy pieces
together in a farcical comedy. The costuming chosen by
Kathy Smith and the musical direction by Josh Robinson
all added up to harmonious and sometimes dissonant fun.
If you need a
good laugh with an atypical holiday distraction, check
out "Merry Chris-Mess." It's the only area holiday show
that runs through Jan. 6, so if you're too busy to see
it now, there's time even into the new year.
"Merry Chris-Mess," a comedy, runs
through Jan. 6 in Tenth Street Theatre on the lower
level of the Calvary Church at the corner of 10th and
Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Call 414-271-1371 or visit