Reviewer: Kristine Gotham
Venue: Pit and Balcony Theatre
Have you ever watched a Christmas movie and just…peed your pants from laughing so hard?!! No? Well, then, you haven’t watched Pit and Balcony’s production of Don Zolidis’, The Holiday Channel Christmas Movie Wonderthon. Six different Christmas movies all rolled into one production and presented in two hours of side splitting comedy and the traditional formula Christmas movie that we all know and love from that Christmas channel.
Wesley Cook and Elijah Feinauer do an amazing job in their roles of Narrator/Commentator/Cast Extra. They encourage audience participation with the expected emotional moments of the stories and the unexpected plot twists or complications that arise as the action continues. Their comedic presentation continues at a breakneck pace, keeping the audience engaged and the story lines moving.
The cast of twelve actors/actresses make up the main story lines. Trashan Donald, as Holly, the desperate inn owner and her funny, red headed and quirky friend, Bridgette, played by Hannah Duford, begin the play. The inn is on the verge of being sold to a developer, or maybe, with Bridgette’s encouragement, burned to the ground for the insurance money.
Thanks to a sudden snowstorm, the inn has an influx of guest for the night. Greg Allison, as Kris, Annie Gower as Merry, Nathan Hanley as Sebastian (aka Brett), Matthew Howe as Sven, Hannah Rousseau as Noelle, Sandra Cline as Joy, Kevin Proffit as Paul, Steven Cantu as Blake, Matthew Howe as Sven, and Audreanna Symon as Rita. Patrick Rzepka and Amy Pitts round out the six couples, playing Jackson and Carol.
True to the holiday movie formula, the couples have a meet cute. They get to know each other and fall in love all during the days leading up to Christmas. They enjoy participating in all kinds of holiday activities together, skating, shopping, snowball fights, sometimes with several couples all participating at the same time, which can make for a very busy stage.
There are the expected complications and plot twists that come up in any relationship, people who are not who they claim to be, hidden agendas and emotional issues that keep the characters from being able to fully embrace the love that they feel in their heart and become who they are truly meant to be. In the end, all is revealed. Some are incredibly happy with the outcome while others wonder if this is really the best but they are resigned that this is what they fought for and won.
This production is a lot of fun to watch. The holiday movie formula is one that we all know so nothing is unexpected but the overall story is presented in such an off-beat way that you forget you are watching a formula and really just engage with the story. In the end you are left with the expected feel good glow and sore sides from laughing.
Director, Jeff List, took a fun story, added a great cast and created a wonderful holiday experience. Patrick Rzepka and Tim Simons round out the cast, helping to bring this story to life.
The Holiday Channel Christmas Movie Wonderthon is showing at Pit and Balcony, December 9-11 and 16-18, 2022. Visit their website for tickets. You won’t be disappointed.