Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Theatre: "Oh Susanna!" Christmas Special

On Saturday night, Mack and I watched the Oh Susanna Christmas Special at the Varscona Theatre. I had been looking forward to this since Eros and the Itchy Ant in November, so I'm glad I was actually able to make it. From the website:

"Oh Susanna! is Edmonton's own Euro-style variety show, playing monthly since 1999 in Strathcona's improv comedy hot-spot, The Varscona Theatre. Antics, music and spectacle abound, guided by international glamour-gal Susanna Patchouli (Mark Meer) and her co-host Eros, God of Love (Jeff Haslam). Watch as celebrity guests engage in sparkling conversation and high-spirited competition! Delight in the shenanigans of the Compania del Mambo! Thrill to the tunes of the Oh Susanna Jug Band! All this...and cocktails!"

I thoroughly enjoyed the show - it was an evening filled with lighthearted fun and laughs (Susanna came out in a forest green velvet mini-dress, announcing that she was, "A Christmas elf...who also happens to be a prostitute"). Meer and Haslam were fantastic as their alter-egos; both were quick witted and had phenomenal ad-libbing ability.

Susanna and Eros were accompanied by a large supporting cast, and in my opinion, they represented Edmonton's "Theatre All-Stars." There were appearances by Davina Stewart, Sheri Somerville, Jocelyn Ahlf, Andrew MacDonald-Smith, Celina Stachow (visiting from L.A.), Farren Timoteo, Dana Andersen, and my personal stage favorite, Andrea House. The who's who in attendance extended off-stage as well, as I saw Stewart Lemoine flitting about the theatre, and even now Vancouver-based Chris Fassbender in the crowd.

I definitely felt like I received my money's worth, as the show included many entertaining segments:
  • Cooking with "Girls on the Grill," where every member of the audience received a sample of turkey buttie, essentially the sandwich equivalent of a full turkey dinner: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cheese, all contained within the confines of grilled bread (at intermission, there were glasses of "one arm punch" and eggnog available to drink as well).
  • The talk show element that discussed current events, after which I could not get the image of premier-elect Ed Stelmach-as-Muppet out of my head.
  • Several musical performances, including a beautiful rendition of "First Noel" by House, and a hilarious Wham! tribute of "Last Christmas."
  • A cute Stewart Lemoine playlet, Christmas in Patagonia, featuring Timoteo, brilliantly cast as "Toddler Jesus."
  • An interview with two Edmonton expats now living in Toronto, back to reprise familiar roles in A Christmas Carol at the Citadel. One of these men, Larry Yachimec, happens to be the star of the Westjet commercial as the clueless patron who required channel guidance from an observant stewardess (he did the laugh!). Obscure fact: the commercial was filmed in an airport hangar in Hamilton, Ontario.

My only negative comment was in regards to the burlesque performance, which seemed tacked on and out of place (I was even more horrified when I found out there were young children in the crowd...). And though I was disappointed with the lack of "The Game! The Game!", it provided me with an excuse to return in the new year.

There were many in-jokes for those in-the-know audience members (like the line spoken in raucous unison, "I don't want to go to jail looking like this!"), as well as numerous self-plugs for projects cast members were involved in. This I didn't mind, as part of the point of this production was to shamelessly lend support to other artistic endeavors in the community.

I can't remember the last time I had so much fun at a show. Though Oh Susannah! has been on for seven years, I still feel like I stumbled on one of the city's best kept secrets.


Anonymous Mack D. Male said...

holy crap you mentioned my name!

too bad you didn't link to me.

December 19, 2006 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Gravitas said...

We can't have everything we want in life!

December 19, 2006 at 8:58 PM  

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