Itâ€™s hard to get your head around all of the suspects as you try to answer the titular question of "Who Killed Santa?"
Thatâ€™s the burning issue, again, as a rag-tag band of players stage "Who Killed Santa?" for the fifth consecutive year. This edition, which only runs through Jan. 12, is being staged at the Underground Collaborative, a wonderful creative space in the Grand Avenue under T.J. Maxx.
Itâ€™s frustrating to try and do justice to just how funny this play is. Not just the moment to moment kind of funny. But also the more global kind of funny, where you keep shaking your head at this incredible chain of events and the tapestry it weaves.
The story is really pretty simple. Santa is holding his annual two days before Christmas party. His guests include Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Tiny Tim and Steve the Little Drummer Boy. The group is joined by Chastity, a buxom redhead who Santa has brought into the group in the name of either diversity or lechery.
Sadly, in the first act, Santa is killed with the final blow being a sharp candy cane driven into his back. And that kicks off the mystery of just who did this dastardly deed.
Before we get to the suspects, itâ€™s important to acknowledge a wonderful Â actor named Bo Johnson. His dissolute and slightly perverted Santa is a classic case of a good man gone bad because of drink and wenching. Johnson also takes his turns as the detective who investigates the murder, the Tooth Fairy who wants to be a private eye, and in a development that boggles the mind, Mrs. Claus.
Johnson is just about as funny as they come. Itâ€™s hard to fathom how one actor can play so many wildly different and distinguished characters in one play. Each one is classically unique, and Johnson pulls it off with nary a misstep.
Now, to the suspects.
Frosty, played by Nate Press, is truly the village idiot. Heâ€™s brought a mop for when he melts a bit and has a vicious arm that could have been the murder weapon.
Tiny Tim, performed with a wonderful limp by Amy Geyser, is worried that he will never become a real man and wants desperately to beat Santa to win the favors of the always-sexy Chastity.
Rudolph (Brittany McDonald)Â has antlers that could have been a murder weapon. Between trips to the bathroom and wonder about his sexuality, Rudolph seems to have motive and opportunity.
Meanwhile, Steve (played with exceptional aplomb by Rick Pendzich) has those drumsticks that could have been used in the assault. He seems to be the only one with even a slightly even and steady view of life, but as the saying goes, who knows?
Then there is Chastity herself, played with all the sultry swagger needed by Liz Shipe. She is a siren of the North Pole and makes menâ€™s hearts beat faster with just a glance and a pout.
It needs also to be said that each of these wonderful actors is accompanied by a puppet that they operate. The puppets and actors combine to create a powerful force, with each playing off each other. Itâ€™s a wonderful, almost spiritual experience.
If you canâ€™t get enough seasonal spirit, "Who Killed Santa?" is guaranteed to keep it alive and well, at least until the middle of the month.
And now that we have discussed the suspects, itâ€™s time to reveal the ending.Â Nah; just kidding.Â As they say in the mystery theater business, if you want to know, you got to go.
For more information about the show and tickets, visit their website.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published Aug. 25, 2016
The ability to talk about race is behind the plan for OnMilwaukee's ongoing series of Milwaukee Talks: honest and frank discussions, unedited and focused on the issues of equality and justice. It's also the time for big dreams for the city.
Published Aug. 23, 2016
The Milwaukee theater season is underway and I've been looking through the schedule. I've found 24 productions I'm really anticipating. There are going to be others, and surprises, but my 24 are the productions I can't wait to see and experience.
Published Aug. 18, 2016
As Milwaukee struggles with the issue of how to deal with racial violence, it's critical to find answers to two key questions. The first question is how did Milwaukee become so racist. The second is how do we fix a culture that loves violence.
Published Aug. 16, 2016
Simon Mustaffa is 18 and lives in the Central City. He's off to UWM with a full scholarship and he has strong views about the violence in Sherman Park. For him, it's not a surprise at all; this explosion was a long time coming.
Published Aug. 16, 2016
All In Productions has a history that can be measured in months, but it has already staged some wonderful plays. It has produced five so far, and the next one is directed by artistic director Robby McGhee, who knows where this company wants to go.
Published Aug. 13, 2016
Under the feathery touch of director Marcella Kearns, Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" takes isolation, desolation and disappointment and stands them on their ear, filling the Cabot Theatre with chuckles, laughters and outright roars of fun
Published Aug. 12, 2016
A sweltering hot August night was the perfect atmosphere for the opening night of "No Exit," Jean Paul Sartre's trip through his particular and peculiar vision of hell. The Dale Gutzman-directed production is a searing journey through the existential mind.
Published Aug. 11, 2016
Election day has come and gone and some of the results in the primary contests are satisfying, but also quite a bit troubling. Leading the satisfaction category is the reelection of District Attorney John Chisholm over Verona Swanigan, 65% to 35%.
Published Aug. 9, 2016
If you are young(ish), headed out on a warm Saturday night and want to go drinking Downtown, you have your choice of four distinctly different areas and crowds to join. As an Uber driver, I spend lots of time in all four places.
Published Aug. 4, 2016
First take a tempest. Then take a teapot.Then put the tempest in the teapot. Here's what you get, according to the dictionary. "A small or unimportant event that is over-reacted to, as if it were of considerably more consequence." We've got them.