Presented by ImprovBoston
Improv director: John Serpico
Writers: Jamie Loftus, Dave Grinstead, Andy Hughes, Allen McRae, Ramy Abdelghani, Scott Kremer, Steve Sarro
Original score by Steve Sarro
The Cast: Ryan Burrill, Dave Grinstead, Ashley Voltz, Alex Tennant, Dennis Hurley, Shiyan Bee, Amanda Sousa, Andy Short,Matt Fear, Ian Dyer, Lydia Jane Graeff, Danny Balel
Review by Kitty Drexel
Trigger warning: Shock humor alluding to blood and feces, child abandonment, Regis Philbin
(Cambridge, MA) December is a magical time of year. It’s alive with childlike wonder, joy and deep-seated loathing for the holiday obligation to spend every waking moment with your family who all are either sick or getting over something in a tiny house and the promise of no social boundaries. Everyone needs an excuse to get out of the house to let off some steam, so why not head over to ImprovBoston to check out their Holiday Spectacular show this week to beat the desperation before it hits? While not exactly spectacular, it is very fun.
IB’s Holiday Spectacular is an original sketch and improv show punctuated with mostly cheerful song and dance. While not exclusively about Christmas, it is Christmas themed from it’s twinkly lights to its costumes. There’s a live band that plays original music and accompanies the actors. Regis Philbin makes a cameo. That being said, someone celebrating Yule, Hanukkah, Festivus, Krampusnacht, Bodhi Day, Hogswatch, Pancha Ganapati, Chalica, or Kwanza will still enjoy themselves. The entire show is secular enough that there’s a little something for everyone.
The sketch scenes read better to the audience than the improv games. The improv was still funny; it just wasn’t as good as the sketch. This is to be anticipated (but not necessarily expected). Not every night is a good night for improv actors. There are a number of factors required to make a grand evening of improv theatre and sometimes the fates don’t aline is such as way as to allow this to happen. The cast rallied exceedingly well. The kept on plowing through the material as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
In the same way, the lyrics were better than the singing. But, anyone going to an improv show expecting to hear the dulcet tones of a classically trained mezzo (unless advertised) deserves to be let down.
Those insulted by productions that take the Lord’s name in vain (among other things) should sit this one out. The type of humor found in the Holiday Spectacular is in keeping with the majority of IB’s shows: most of it is pretty tasteful, most of it is created out of joy by the writers and cast, but not always. There’s enough of a hard edge to some of the content that the extra-sensitive or squeamish may want to sit this one out. Or, if you do choose to attend, the lobby bar is sure to have something to cure what ails you. Tip your bar staff.