Christmas brings together the strangest bedfellows in Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt's latest holiday show, "Smorgaspork," a wide-ranging and quite entertaining "greatest hits" collection...
“Smorgaspork: The Best of Ham For the Holidays”
Through Dec. 26, call theater for schedule, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle, Seattle; $17-$22 (206-325-6500).
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Christmas brings together the strangest bedfellows in Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt’s latest holiday show, “Smorgaspork,” a wide-ranging and quite entertaining “greatest hits” collection drawn from their 15 years as a writing-performing team.
There’s Spiderman at the piano, Robin calling Batman on his cellphone, Xena and Wonder Woman (middle-age and overweight) and even a Jewish character who sings “If I Were a Christian” to the tune of “If I Were a Rich Man.”
Also joining in is the Sequim Men’s Chorus, rhyming “Sequim” with “grim” in a coming-out song.
Another group, the rocking Surly Bitches, are known less for their music than for the fact that Courtney Love once threw up on them. Compost Morning Dew, a folk singer with an agenda, performs at the Seattle Solstice Fest, “a Bush-free zone” that’s aggressively gay-positive.
So is much of “Smorgaspork,” which features perhaps the swishiest Robin in showbiz history, as well as a hedonistic nun who arranges same-sex marriages while she pushes a “bondage package” for the newlyweds. Among the more outrageous numbers is “A Womanly Song,” an illustrated catalog of clinical terms for genitalia.
The result is more impressive than offensive, partly because the musicianship is so smart. The Sequim chorus (Platt, Koch, Andrew Tasakos and D.J. Gommels) seems ridiculous at first, but their harmonies can give you goose bumps when they perform their “signature song”: a gloriously awful mixture of “Over the Rainbow” and the theme from “Titanic.”
Most of this material is from the second and funnier half. Before intermission, the jokes aren’t always as sharp; an extended sequence about summer camp could be safely dropped. Still, one of the first skits, “Barrista Boot Camp,” about the enforcement of “customer service drills” at “S.B. Tully Bucks Coffee,” is among the show’s comic high points.
Koch and Platt first worked together in 1989’s “The Holiday Survival Game Show.” During scenery changes, “Smorgaspork” features video clips from many of the shows they’ve done in-between, including appearances by Kevin Kent and Sandra Singler and reminders of the long-gone Alice B. Theater.
Although the audio portion is sometimes garbled, the clips lend the new show a sense of history and a glimpse at the evolution of a unique Seattle theatrical team.
John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times
“A Radioland Christmas”
Through Dec. 30, call theater for schedule, Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., Seattle, Seattle; $19-$29 (206-781-9707).
Seattle Christmas shows are like a box of holiday chocolates. Some are bittersweet with a tangy lemon filling. Others, like Taproot Theatre’s “A Radioland Christmas,” written by local playwright Lauri Evans Deason, are milk chocolate with a gooey center.
It’s Christmas Eve 1943 at the studios of KSEA, a Seattle radio station. Ned (Sam Vance) is one hour away from a broadcast of his newest radio drama and his cast of actors is exhibiting the kind of behavior that would drive any writer/director to extreme panic.
“A Radioland Christmas” has 10 very funny minutes at the top of Act II. The rest of the show plays like an earnest attempt to combine a lightweight screwball comedy with a Christian message of charity and hope.
Ned’s Mary (as in Mary, mother of Jesus) is played by his girlfriend, Ava (Rachel Hornor), who finds her part badly written. His vocalist, Stanley (Rick May), keeps losing his voice. And the only comic relief Ned can muster is a third-rate ventriloquist named Frank (Larry Albert) and his dummy, Frank Jr.
Adding to Ned’s misery are: a claustrophobic radio announcer (Peter Hopkins), an airhead jingle singer (Rhiannon Kruse), a janitor called Joe (Don Brady), who doesn’t do much cleaning, and Joe’s precocious daughter Sparrow (Grace Catherine Johnson), who is very, very chatty.
On the plus side, scenic and sound designer Mark Lund has created a warm, intimate radio studio with plenty of Seattle commercials and evocative 1940s music. And actors Hopkins and Kruse fit into this environment like fingers in a glove.
All in all, though, the show was no treat for this reviewer. But the audience seemed to love every minute.
Richard Wallace, Special to The Seattle Times