IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Farce the herald angels sing

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

I will be eternally grateful to the Phoenix Theatre (and its Christmas-music-obsessed head Bryan Fonseca) for introducing me to the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York.” A knock-out element in last year’s “A Very Phoenix Xmas,” it quickly became my favorite holiday song—despite the unlikelihood of ever hearing carolers carrying the view-from-the-gutter tune.

This year, my gratitude to Fonseca and company multiplies thanks to “White Wine in the Sun,” a second-act song in this year’s show. Written by Tim Minchin, composer of Broadway’s “Matilda,” the smart, searching “White Wine in the Sun” could well become my second-favorite Christmas song. It’s already in my top 10.
 

ae-phoenix-xmas-ensemble-with-hansen-300dpi-15col.jpg Paul Hansen and company give New Orleans’ flare to “A Very Phoenix Xmas.” (Photo/ Zach Rosing)

Such unexpected highlights make “A Very Phoenix Xmas” essential viewing for me every December. As with Christmas itself, the show’s greatest gifts tend to be the surprises, rather than the ones you expect.

In case you’ve missed installments one-through-seven, each year the Phoenix Theatre pieces together a holiday show from submitted short scripts, distilling 100 or so wannabes down to a half dozen selections, fusing them together with songs, dance numbers, video segments and narrative additions. As the subtitle of this year’s show—“Angels We Have Heard While High” (running through Dec. 22)—suggests, the emphasis is on material you won’t hear at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Yuletide Celebration” or at “A Beef & Boards Christmas,” where reverence rules.

This year, the attitude is underlined in an opening salvo by Phoenix playwright-in-residence (and the show’s chief compiler) Tom Horan, establishing as hosts the earnest Scot Greenwell and his drink-and-other-stuff imbiber Ryan O’Shea. It leads into “Mary’s Christmas Story” by A. Scott Freeman, in which the world’s most famous miraculous pregnancy is announced in the context of a contemporary family meal.

No, not every sketch works—and some, including “Mary,” fizzle out before they end—but there are pleasures sprinkled throughout, including a lovely, festive set, upgraded video elements, the minimization of obvious jokes that often marred previous installments, and a serious effort to give its characters inner life instead of just serving as joke fodder. “Christmas Isn’t Math,” a boy-and-his-dog story by Sarah Saltwick, contains some of the show’s strongest work.

And then there’s the music. In addition to “White Wine in the Sun,” there’s jaunty, New Orleans’ flavored dancing; more playful work from Indy Fringe’s favorite musical trio, The Fourth Wall; and a fairly accurate re-creation of the signature dance moves from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Plus a mad scientist doing experiments on a cat.

Because what would the holiday season be without a mad scientist doing experiments on a cat?
__________

If “A Very Phoenix Xmas” is too tame for you, consider visiting ComedySportz’s “A Christmas Carol Unscripted” (Fridays through Dec. 23). You can even make it a double feature if you sneak out during the Phoenix curtain call—as I did—and hustle down the block to Mass Ave. Read the full review at www.ibj.com/arts.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

  2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

  3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

  4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

  5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

ADVERTISEMENT