MONMOUTH — A zany concoction of Christmas cheer is running rampant on the Cumston Hall stage in the current Theater at Monmouth production.

Three actors cram thousands of holiday references into “Every Christmas Story Ever Told … (and then some!).”

This show, which pays homage to all that’s even remotely related to Christmas, stretches the seasonal puns to ridiculous lengths, and it is delightful entertainment.

Grace Bauer, James Noel Hoban and Ian Kramer begin a performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but Hoban gets no further than declaring that Scrooge is “as dead as a doornail.”

He quits cold. “I can’t do it!” he exclaims.

Hoban feels it’s just one staging too many of that “BHC” (beloved holiday classic), and the trio of actors soon find themselves in a breakneck compilation of scenes, suggestions and snippets of familiar stories and songs from pop culture to “days of yore.”

For Bauer, ’tis the season for Santa to come coasting over TV screens on his Norelco electric razor. There’s even a bit of international yuletide history mixed in with the trio’s runaway raid on annual traditions.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is lampooned with the appearance of the three-piece Winnipeg, Manitoba, Marching Band, and Bauer bounces around as a big parade balloon caught by a rogue wind gust.

What event always follows the Macy’s parade on TV? The blue ribbon dog show, of course, and the actors go into hilarious prancing impressions of the dogs and their owners.

Hoban becomes the Grinch in a whirlwind visit to Whoville where his heart grows two sizes, thanks to a Little Cindy Who, who is coaxed on stage from the audience.

There’s another bit of audience interaction when the trio stages a quiz show. Fruitcake gets a major share of disparagement, and a there’s a mangled story of the red-nosed reindeer who becomes Gustav, the mauve-nosed rein-moose, because the actors fear copyright complications if they bring Rudolph into this madcap mélange.

Bauer also appears as a very funny Frosty the Snowman. Kramer contributes lots of spot-on satire, and Hoban maintains his affable bluster throughout the show.

This show explodes with the spirit of the season. A highlight is the delightful mixture of characters and plot when “A Christmas Carol” and “A Wonderful Life” collide.

Under the direction of Dawn McAndrews, TAM’s producing artistic director, audiences enjoy a laugh-filled production. All three actors have been in TAM productions, both dramatic and comedic, in the past five or six years.

Set and light design is by Jim Alexander, costume design is by Elizabeth Rocha, and sound design is by Elizabeth Nelson. Rebecca Caron is music director and Stacey Koloski provided fine scenic design.

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told … (and then some!)” was written about 15 years ago by John K. Alvarez, Michael Carleton and James Fitzgerald.

McAndrews said the show was presented by TAM last year.

“We have added a few new twists and turns to freshen things up, but at its heart the play remains a beautifully wrapped package full of holiday memories and a sincere hope for good will toward all people,” she said.

This production is best suited for audiences of ages 13 and older.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1, 2 and 3; and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4.

For tickets, contact the TAM box office at 207-933-9999 or go online to www.theateratmonmouth.org.


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