Every Christmas Story Ever Told

Rated 4.0

Here’s a formula that’s produced several popular shows on local stages: Pick a vast, complicated, centuries-old topic like Shakespeare, the history of western civilization or the grand panoply of Christmas. Hire two or three male actors with the gift of gab and a knack for physical comedy. Supply them with bad wigs and dresses for numerous cross-dressing scenes. (Audiences love men in drag.) Lastly, let the boys romp through the weighty chosen topic at high speed, making joyful gibberish out of facts and figures, and gleefully goring as many sacred cows as possible.

This recipe paid off handsomely for The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), staged by Foothill Theatre Company last summer, starring Greg Alexander. It succeeded with The Big Bang, staged by the B Street Theatre in 2005, starring Greg Alexander. It’s still working—quite well, thank you—for Every Christmas Story Ever Told at Capital Stage, directed by Greg Alexander.

Alexander’s cast features three Equity actors: Eric Wheeler, Gary Martinez and Anthony D’Juan. Wheeler’s done light, nimble revues in the past, but Martinez and D’Juan have been associated hereabouts with more serious stuff. Turns out they both handle antic, high-energy comedy as if they were born to do it.

The show opens with a nearly robotic scene from A Christmas Carol. Martinez stops the show to complain that the saga of Scrooge has been done to death. A pact is cut: The threesome will take a demolition derby tour of “every Christmas story ever told,” ransacking characters like the Grinch, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus, and lampooning The Gift of the Magi, A Child’s Christmas in Wales and It’s a Wonderful Life. Not even The Nutcracker emerges unscathed.

It’s light, fast-moving, irreverent and fun. We predict brisk ticket sales for Capital Stage in the weeks ahead.