Last weekend, Ghostlight Theatre Club put on a variety show under the rather grandiose title "Screw the Eggnog, Pass the Rum: A Christmas Spectacular!" The show ran for two performances and was billed as a "Nontraditional-Nonfamily Ghostlight Style Christmas."
Non-family: Now that's a novel "? and welcome "? concept for audiences.
The show was comprised of songs; sketches; a man in a Santa Claus suit singing a ditty on the theme of, to paraphrase, "screw Christmas"; and a truncated version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," in which Jacob Marley was confused with reggae musician Bob Marley, among other non-family fare. The actors even got in a joke about Tiger Woods, but who hasn't? The show was Ghostlight's antidote for the umpteen productions of "A Christmas Carol," "The Nutcracker" and other seasonal treacle playing around the city.
That's not to say the evening was devoid of the trappings of holiday rituals. Refreshments were served and, at intermission, the cast mingled with the audience, while the wonderful actress Cristela Carrizales made sure that everyone had plenty of hot cider.
"Screw the Eggnog" included many references to theater, popular culture, holiday traditions and Ghostlight's brief history. The show opened with "J.C. and the Angry Twelve" singing The Beatles' "Birthday," a reference to both Jesus Christ and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"?
"Perhaps," as Richard Roma from "Glengarry Glen Ross," a recent Ghostlight production, might say.
In fact, the most successful skit was a "Glengarry" scene that was not in the play, but was in the film version: when Alec Baldwin tells Jack Lemmon to "Put that coffee down!" The excellent David Mays played the Baldwin character in the "Eggnog" version, which was set in Santa's workshop. Mays excoriated the elves for insufficient productivity and berated them into following the ABC principle: "Always Be Constructing," as in toys. Mays, in an elf's cap and pointy shoes, was hilariously profane.
This parody was not an original idea. Baldwin himself re-created his role in the "Always Be Cobbling" sketch a few years ago on "Saturday Night Live." Ghostlight's was sharper, but it had the advantage of not having to air on network television.
Another sketch parodied a Ghostlight production when Mays and Chris Crane sang "musical musings on 'The Pillowman,'" Martin McDonagh's devastating tragedy that is about as far from musical comedy as you can get. In "Fat Nick," Carrizales and Jeff Burleson revisited their roles from "Fat Pig," but in a role reversal, in which Mrs. Claus does not want to introduce the corpulent Santa to any of her friends.
So is the idea behind "Screw the Eggnog" "? a piquant, ribald look at the holiday "? legitimate? Goodness, yes. Now, Ghostlight artistic director Lance Garrett has to assess what in "Eggnog" worked, what didn't work, what sort of worked and what sort of didn't work.
Then the writers at Ghostlight immediately have to start working on next year's show.