Review: 'Holiday Hoopla XVIII'
Shadowbox rings in the holidays as only they know how
Shadowbox Cabaret's "Holiday Hoopla XVIII" kicked off Thursday, Nov. 19, with a host of new skits and rockin' holiday music, offering up a pretty amazing start to the Columbus holiday season.
Typically one of the year's largest draws for the sketch comedy/rock ‘n' club, their 18th "Hoopla" is packed with skits that commemorate the holidays in the only way Shadowbox knows how—with beautifully searing wit.
Metromix had a spot in the opening night crowd. Here's our quick take of the good, the bad and the ugly from the show.
- The Shadowbox Cabaret Random Arts Writing League (affectionately known as SCRAWL) must've been putting in some serious overtime, because the writing for "Hoopla" is definitely on point. This is showcased by "The Firstest Christmas," featuring a horde of third-grade Montessori School students acting out their understanding of the first Christmas. The tale stars not only Mary and Joseph, but also Rudolph, the Grinch and Santa.
- The night features quite a few moments where music and comedy come together to form a perfect combination. In one such hilarious sketch, a pitch-perfect but dysfunctional chorus musically tortures choir director (Julie Klein) until everyone gets their figgy pudding.
- It was a night of perfect comedic duets—David Whitehouse and Julie Klein as quirky movie critics; Jimmy Mak and Jerrod Roberts as hyperactive boy scouts; and Mak with Amy Lay as "American Top 40" co-hosts Casey Kasem and Paula Abdul.
- Roberts as Prince, "Amish Wonderland" by New Kids on the Block and Mak as Al Pacino—-these are had-to-be-there moments that can't be explained but must be experienced.
- BillWho? is amazing (as always). However, the Shadowbox house band somehow outdoes itself with s rendition of "Christmas in Sarajevo," originally by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Kudos to Chris Lambert for a killer guitar solo and flautists Noelle Grandison and Stephanie Shull, who add the perfect touch to the arrangement.
- The best vocal of the night goes to the diva-licious, powerhouse threesome that is Klein, Lay and Stephanie Shull on "Children Go Where I Send Thee."
- And, of course, kudos to the Santa Babies, a dysfunctional singing girl group starring Klein, Shull and Katy Psenicka. The Babies are one big reason to make the trek out to the see "Hoopla." We loved the addition of video promos starring the girls is hilarious infomercials for various products.
- "Children Go Where I Send Thee" also lands in the "bad" section because Shadowbox CEO Steven Guyer decides to put his two best vocalists on the same song and place it at the top of the show. This unfortunately causes a comparison dilemma throughout the rest of the night, which we'll discuss later.
- Though Guyer nails his role as a campy Mister Rogers in "Resolutions Y'all Can Keep" the overall premise of New Year's resolutions that are easy to accomplish (i.e. "learn something new every day") is a bit stale.
- Not sure if it was our ears, issues with the sound system or the fact that she sang after "Children Go Where I Send Thee," but the usually dynamic Grandison fell pretty flat during her "Silent Night" solo.
- Mary Randle (Shadowbox's star vocalist in our opinion) was relegated to back-up vocals behind Guyer during the BillWho? original "The Old Man." And to add insult to injury, it was her only vocal appearance of the night.
"Holiday Hoopla XVII" runs every Tuesday through Sunday until Jan. 2. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students/seniors. For more information, visit the Shadowbox Web site.
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