Peggy Sue Dunigan

Dale Gutzman’s Holiday Punch Green

By - Dec 22nd, 2008 02:52 pm
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Spiked with humor and a generous spritz of decadence, Dale Gutzman’s Holiday Punch Green lightly focuses on environmental issues. Together with this politically correct “green” emphasis, the two-hour performance also spoofs Gutzmans’s longevity as the company’s artistic director. In these 28 loosely related sketches, the twelve cast members (including Gutzman who appears on stage to host the show) change costumes and scenes effortlessly in the intimate space while Chris Wszaleck’s piano and Patrick Hopkins’ percussion provide the music.

The revue presents Gutzman’s particular take on the holidays with panache and a decidedly deviant slant, although several installments could be eliminated to spark a stronger show. During the first half, a number titled “That Special Store” parodies West Side Story with a clever rendition of ”IKEA…the most beautiful store I ever knew”to the award-winning melody of Maria.Jeremy C. Welter follows by singing the timely and touching Brother Can You Spare A Dime? Even box office manager Mary R. Henricksen participates with two satiric versions of The Night Before Christmas in mocking tribute to Off the Wall Theatre. Just before the intermission, a rousing version of Obama Mia! reprises the popularity of Abba’s musical and movie phenomena with catchy political lyrics honoring the recent election.

When returning to the theater after sipping real punch, the second act showcases the musical numbers Hard Candy Christmas, featuring the feminine side of Off the Wall, and If I Ruled the World sung solo by Gutzman. A very funny finale closes the show, which was never intended to offer family-friendly entertainment, with a piece that makes this all too apparent. Yet when Off the Wall’s Rickettes immortalize New York’s famous Rockettes to celebrate their 75th birthday the comedic choreography portrays the male cast baring their bellies and legs to conclude the evening with raucous hilarity.

While this spicy Holiday Punch may be a delightful drink for those seeking adult seasonal spirits and entertainment, the production will not be everyone’s cup of Christmas tea. These festive moments and music will certainly provoke that kick of sardonic laughter that is Off the Wall’s signature ingredient to the Milwaukee theater scene.

Off the Wall Theatre presents Dale Gutzman’s Holiday Punch Green through December 31. For information call 414-327-2552.

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