At “5 Carols for Christmas” and “Jingle Jacks,” two one-acts playing together in the Connie Leishman Performance Hall at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, it’s the laughs that make the show truly sweet.
The night starts with “5 Carols for Christmas,” a riff about a group of community singers in the 1950s. The show moves between wholesome Christmas spirit and hilarious satire, constantly shifting the balance. I wish that playwright Jim Christian had cut back a little on the wholesomeness, but all five performers had a lovely touch with the serious, period-appropriate songs.
Watching the ladies ham it up, however, was the true delight. The song “Dress Up Your Shelter” was about how to make your bomb shelter festive for the holidays, in case the Cold War ever heated up. It was such glorious silliness I would have happily bought the MP3. I would want video of the reprise of the equally hilarious “Ding Dong, Merrily on High,” which will probably leave me forever disappointed with boring old bells.
The acting hit its own grace notes. Samantha Wursten’s Ling Ling was so enthusiastic that everything she did was a delight to watch. And I will forever love Andrea Wood for her wonderfully polite, polished “Excuse me, but I’m going to go find a snowplow and fling myself in front of it.” I’ve felt that way more than once.
“Jingle Jacks” was also written and directed by Christian, with Ken Plain providing the music for both. The plot involves four lumberjacks/boy band members who are doing a Christmas webcast, and the spot-on dance moves alone are a hoot for anyone who has memories of Backstreet Boys or New Kids on the Block.
The bit focusing on Jingle Jacks merchandise was also hilariously inspired, and the fact that they’re not selling a few of those calendars in the theater lobby is really a missed merchandising opportunity. I, for one, would have happily brought home the band’s “Dates By the Dozen” calendar at the very least.
All four actors had an earnest, unforced charm that carried both the sweeter and sillier moments. You got the sense that they never took themselves too seriously, even as their characters felt desperately serious about the whole thing.
There were also plenty of little touches. With one move, Derek Pay managed to convince me he had long, flowing locks until he shaved them off for marketing purposes. Sean Bishop radiated sweetness and responsibility, while BJ Whimpey did an adorable riff on the big lug routine. Taylor Knuth’s “sexy face” was comedy gold, particularly the way he worked those eyebrows.
Now excuse me, I need to go bookmark my web browser for their upcoming Hanukkah webcast.
For tickets or more information, call 801-298-1302 or visit centerpointtheatre.org. Both one-acts play together as a single performance.