Frosty the Snowman is cooking up drugs for Santa Claus. Children, both naughty and nice, are missing. There’s a killer on the loose, and apparently he’s trying to skin his victims. “I don’t want to scare you,” sings the sock-puppet serial killer, “… just want to wear you.” It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for blood in the premiere of See ‘Em on Stage’s A Christmassacre Story
at The Shadowbox Theatre.
Clarice the Reindeer (a puppet operated by Katie Coplen Bourg) is on a mission to catch a killer. A young boy (a plastic doll) climbed into the back of Buffalo Bill’s truck and now he’s missing. The show mostly uses puppets — elves, socks and a bare hand — to tell its gruesome tale, which is a mix of The Silence of the Lambs
, A Charlie Brown Christmas
and Sesame Street
Puppeteers work behind a wooden backdrop painted with a scene of a wholesome, snow-covered town, and less conventional holiday decor includes a tree decorated with plastic doll parts.
With his face painted white and dressed like a snowman, Burl Ives (Michael Cerveris) narrated the gnarly tale in the first weekend of the run. Ives is the only actor who doesn't use a puppet, and he sings a substantial portion of the show’s original songs. With music and lyrics by Paul Sanchez (Nine Lives: A Musical Story of New Orleans
) and Mary Lasseigne, the tunes parody Christmas standards and are as funny as they are gory. Each night, the show features a musical guest. Though not in sync with the show’s tone, John Boutte gave a touching performance of a Christmas song.
As with the company’s most recent production, Musical of the Living Dead
, there is a good amount of blood spray and a “splatter zone” in the audience. When a character dies, the audience gets sprayed with red and green fluids. In one scene, Carol Brady (Kimberly Kaye) has her vocal chords ripped as she tries to sing. Her curly-haired daughter finishes the song as blood from Brady’s neck spews over the audience.
There are many holiday jokes in the comedy, but the show drags when the humor veers into meta-commentary. At a few points, Cerveris turned to director Christopher Bentivegna to make a dig at the production’s minimal budget. These moments felt forced, and a bit about killing off the “ethnic” character fell flat.
Clarice eventually confronts the jailed Hannibal Lecter (Logan Faust), the menacing and charming cannibal. The scene’s irreverence is particularly satisfying as it leads to the final showdown at the most uncomfortable holiday party ever.
A Christmassacre Story
might not be right for the entire family, but it’s a good time for those who find the holidays a bit scary.
A Christmassacre Story
8 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
The Shadowbox Theatre
, 2400 St. Claude Ave., (504) 298-8676