Corey Music, Andrew Stairs, Jake Beamer, Megan Adair, & April Singer in The Kings of Christmas.
Photo courtesy of The Bard’s Town.
The Kings of Christmas
By Doug Schutte
Directed by Doug Schutte and Scot Atkinson
Review by Brian Kennedy
Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved
Thanks to its zany characters, witty banter, strong performances from each of the actors and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, The Kings of Christmas is simply the funniest Christmas-themed show in Louisville. or anywhere, for that matter.
The play, now in its fifth year at The Bard’s Town, is somewhat based on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, although one can be sure Dickens never thought about an interpretation like this. Carter King (Corey Music) is the Scrooge in this tale. He’s a very cynical New York critic who could care less about being home for the holidays, Music plays up the cynicism perfectly, providing a counterpoint to the other family members, who are a little…nuts.
Each family member has his or her own quirks, and all the actors explore them with a great amount of delight. Just check out the opening moments of the play. The banter is rapid-fire back and forth and the overall action on stage has more energy and enthusiasm than seen in most other Louisville theatre shows in 2015. The energy stays up the entire play. Clearly, these actors were having plenty of fun. The audience could tell, and they were laughing and howling early and often in this show.
Two personal favorites include Kennedy (Jake Beamer), a failed magician dealing with certain internal problems, and Carol (Megan Adair), who is a seemingly normal mother until she brings out her “Aunt Sylvia” alter ego at a moment’s notice.
Adair brings a unique charm to her Carol character, seeming every bit the motherly type. However, when she goes into “Aunt Sylvia” mode, Adair is full on craziness, energetic and looking every bit the part of Olivia Newton John’s stunt double in the “Physical” video. She was a unique character that was fun to watch.
Meanwhile, Beamer is flat out hilarious in his over-the-top character. There’s a point in the show when he attempts to use his powers as a magician, whatever they are, to bring a subject back to life. Using a combination of Elvis moves and a booming voice a televangelist could love, he stands front and center and brings about one of the biggest laughs of the night. He also received a couple of ‘amens’ from the audience and forced Doug Schutte out of his Uncle Frank character and into hysterics immediately following the scene.
The above scene comes during Carter’s “trial” in the family living room for allegedly murdering the cat, Marley. Carter is tied to a chair and facing his family, which includes his Uncle Frank (Schutte, who was just awesome) as prosecutor and Wendy Williams (the charming April Singer), a neighbor who has a thing for Carter, as the defense attorney; a group of stick figures round out the jury.
What follows is a lot of gut-busting and entertaining moments, including more rapid-fire paced witty lines, spirits, plenty of breaking of the fourth wall (entirely appropriate for this show), and plenty of A Christmas Carol and Elvis references. There may even be an Elvis impersonator in the mists.
Schutte has created an off-the-wall masterpiece, and this show, thanks to its all-around hilarity, deserves to be back for year six, seven and more.
The Kings of Christmas
December 10-21 (7:30 PM)
Tickets $16 advanced, $18 at the door.
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for Louisville.com and Examiner.com from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana. He is also race director for the Movie Lovers 5K, which will take place in Jeffersontown in March 2016.