The 7th Annual Janky Christmas Show
Reviewed by Dana Martin
Christmas really is the jankiest time of year. Ridiculous fashion, horrible music, weird traditions, awkward family gatherings. Why do we do this to ourselves year after year? Tradition? On the upside, The Bootleg Theater’s The 7th Annual Janky Christmas Show is a hilarious, irreverent and surprisingly touching tribute to Christmas (and Hanukkah!) in all their ridiculous glory.
The show is in the spirit of a good, old-fashioned variety show. The Mistletones House Band greets the audience with variations of the jankiest Christmas tunes, spruced up and sounding tolerable. In fact, more than tolerable — downright enjoyable. I could feel my own grinchiness melting like the polar ice caps — quickly. What follows are three acts of quality entertainment. Other highlights of the evening include a hysterical rendition of the “12 Days of Christmas”, a gorgeous original song “Dear Friend,” and then of course the Hanukkah shots. L’Chaim, my friends!
The ensemble is solid and having a blast. The evening’s festivities are hosted by the charming and good-humored John C. Reilly, who pairs well with co-writer/director Kristen Campbell-Taylor. Co-writer Michael Dunn adds much to the evening as Pink Santa, but the real MVP is music director/band leader Kristen Toedtman, who keeps the evening reined in and clipping along. It was great fun to watch her lead the band, sing and play a variety of instruments throughout the evening.
The direction by Campell-Taylor is clean and crisp. Despite the chaos, she never lets the action get sloppy. The transitions are built into the action and the scenes flow brilliantly. Costume designer Sulai Lopez gives the performers much to work as the costumes complement the storytelling. The blend of the sound is kind of janky though. At times, the 10 piece band would practically blast the audience from their seats. No one seemed fazed.
The Janky Christmas show takes everything tacky and sappy about Christmas and makes magic. They leave us with the true spirit of Christmas: love, friendship, family, drinking. The show is closed now, but don’t miss the 8th annual next year. Surely they’ll be back again. Why? TRADITION!
Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Closed. Running time: 90 minutes with an intermission.