Christmas by Remote Control | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Christmas by Remote Control

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Christmas by Remote Control, at the Organic Theater.

A show that opens with three snotty little girls and one bratty little boy lip-synching a Chipmunks song can only get better. And, to be fair, the live-action variety acts--ostensibly discovered by Santa Claus and the dreaming boy as they channel surf to discover the True Meaning of Christmas--include a couple of genuine novelties: a rap-style Christmas poem and a speed-singing contest that renders "Jingle Bells" in sign language and pig latin simultaneously. But these two acts take less than ten minutes in this show's two hours of relentlessly cheerful, painfully undertrained holiday high jinks.

Some of these are reverent: "White Christmas," reenacted scenes from It's a Wonderful Life, and a slide display dedicated to our brave boys in uniform (World War II vintage). And some are satirical: the sadistically tasteless "Pretty Little Dolly," a band of self-proclaimed cheeseheads who hee-haw their way through "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," and a nymphet who lisps "Santa Baby" in a Betty Boop voice while vamping the old men in the audience. But all of Christmas by Remote Control, which comes to us via the Beverly Theater Guild, retains the boosterly, ingenuous flavor of vaudeville entertainment by community theaters, church groups, schools, and dormitories everywhere. Only playgoers in whom nostalgic memories are awakened by flashlights bobbing backstage, a "snowman" dressed in a shaggy-dog suit, and poop-in-your-pants jokes are likely to share in the uproarious fun the players are obviously having.

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