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Theatre Review: Shadowbox Live gets in festive spirit with Holiday Hoopla XXI

 Halie Williams Theatre Review: Shadowbox Live gets in festive spirit with Holiday Hoopla XXI
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From left to right: Stacie Boord as Sissy, Julie Klein as Mom, and David Whitehouse as Bobby in Cliche Family Christmas 2012. Credit: Shadowbox Live

It may still only be early November, but Shadowbox Live is getting ready for the holiday season early.

With the opening of Holiday Hoopla XXI last night, the troupe proved that even after 21 years its annual show is anything short of quality material.

The show kicks off with an impressive version of “Deck the Halls” arranged by house band BillWho? and thereafter with Bon Jovi’s “Please Come Home for Christmas” sung by Julie Klein.

The first sketch showcases two aliens from another planet (Nikki Fagin and JT Walker III) on a mission to study the Earth and ultimately the way we celebrate Christmas. When the human, David Whitehouse, makes an effort to fully explain the tradition it seems rather ridiculous, making for a humorous realization.

One of the most memorable performances of the night was Stacie Boord’s rendition of “Merry Christmas Baby.” Donning a long, sleek, back-less dress Boord belts her soulful voice to the crowd and delivers an admirable presentation of the sensual song.

Another noteworthy sketch featured JT Walker III as Santa who is going over the naughty list when Mary Randle informs him that the children cannot be deemed naughty if they are diagnosed with ADHD and the only cure is the new medicine “Kidilin.” He then tells her it is the parent’s responsibility to raise the child right so they do not behave this way although she only laughs this off. Walker is hysterical as an annoyed Santa and ultimately solves his annoyance by knocking out both Randle and her “hyperactive” kid.

Also during Act I is a new episode of “Sneak-a-Peak” presenting clips from upcoming holiday-related movies. While amusing and well-done the best of the trailers was “Sleightanic,” a parody of “Titanic” in which Santa’s (JT Walker III) sleigh goes down after hitting a snow mountain and ends in Santa shooting Celine Dion (Amy Lay) when she appears to sing.

Not every aspect of the show is a hit, however.

Act II gets off to a slow start with the only misfire of the night, Cliché Family Christmas. While there are a few laughable one-liners the sketch seems to drag on with no real purpose.

The songs were all well presented, as always (BillWho? rarely disappoints,) and naturally, well sung. Some highlights included Stev Guyer singing “Old Man” and Nikki Fagin performing Elvin Bishop’s “Silent Night.”

The Santa Babies! From left to right: Julie Klein as Dixie, Stephanie Shull as Dorothy, Stacie Boord as Dolly. Credit: Shadowbox Live

And certainly expected, the popular Santa Babies make an appearance to end the night. Dixie (Julie Klein,) Dorothy (Stephanie Shull,) Dolly (Stacie Boord) and Daphne (Jennifer Hahn) are back with several holiday numbers such as “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” and “Santa Baby” which both included audience participation.

Boord was the real high point of the show, prancing around the stage with an immense amount of energy, continually lifting up her dress. By the time the girls left the stage I had decided that this was one of the best Shadowbox Live shows I have attended to date.

Walking into the theater Thursday night I was worried the 21st anniversary of this show might not live up to the past. I was quickly disproven. Overflowing with comedic brilliance and fresh material, Holiday Hoopla XXI is the perfect chance to welcome the season and be filled with holiday cheer.

“Holiday Hoopla XXI” is playing through Dec. 29 at 503 S. Front St. on select Tuesdays – Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

General Admission is $30.00 and Student and Senior tickets are $20.

More information can be found online at www.shadowboxlive.org.

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