The Best Christmas Pageant Ever | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever



The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, ComedySportz. Best known for its competitive take on Viola Spolin's improv games, Comedy-Sportz is the last group I'd expect to stage a traditional fully scripted Christmas show like this one. Adapted by Barbara Robinson from her own sweet but shallow young-adult novel, it details what happens when the rowdiest family in town infiltrates a church play. But though the story was first published in 1972, it feels more like an artifact of the 1940s, and this cast makes Robinson's amiable but old-fashioned tale even more annoying.

Improvisation is an excellent preparation for actors who want to think on their feet. But if they want to create something long-lasting--multilayered characters or a script that will be funny six months from now--they need other skills. A few of the actors in this large cast have them; Lauren Bishop is both compelling and very funny in her superbly crafted role as one of the rowdy Herdmans. But all too many of the others in this sloppily performed show just skim the surface, trying to win laughs with quirky mannerisms. And a few, like Katherine Gotsick, go to the other extreme and overplay their roles, mugging like crazy in the mistaken belief that if you can't be good, you should be loud. Both choices are wrong for this featherweight play.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →