The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever! : The Producers meets Noises Off
Updated: Apr 8
Directed by Bree Pavey
Written by Joe Marshall
Starring: Cassandra Carmona, Matt Caudel, Noah Copfer, Andrew Cottrell, Madylin Sweeten Durrie, Dan Ellis, Javier Flores, Barbera Ann Howard, Sean James, Corey Klemow, Katy Laughlin, Ignacio Navarro, Alejandro Baquero Sanchez, Scottie Smith, Luke Sookdeo, and Bart Tangredi
The Producers- The story, I'm sure, is influenced by the Mel Brooks film in terms of struggling producers trying to create a sensationalist production.
Noises Off- Lots of chaotic farce, lots of crazy twists and laughs (I'm Dr Seuss). Specifically Dan Ellis's portrayal of Jim the technician was especially reminiscent of the classic comedy.
Well, the title did not disappoint! The latest production from the Loft Ensemble in North Hollywood, brings a fun, energetic, Christmas play.
The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever! follows an LGBT theatre in West Hollywood as they work on their latest Christmas production one disaster after another. The owner of the theater, Rod (Bart Tangredi), known for such colorful productions as Oklahomo and The Wizard of Odd has his latest script, a reinterpretation of a nativity play, booted in favor of a new playwright, M&M. When M&MD for confusing reasons, resigns, Rod’s script is requested again only for a faulty light to knock Rod out of commission. A hotshot New York director is then brought in, auditions are held, a racist homophobic Tourette’s suffering Grandma is in attendance- what more could you ask for?
You could tell immediately there was a lot of originality in this production. Although, the heavy use ad-libbing could make the show a little hard to follow at times. This worked in the play's favor when they wanted to present the unfolding chaos but sacrificed some understanding of everything going on.
There were a few stand out performances in this show. Dan Ellis was one, giving an assured performance as Jim, a British simpleton who works at the theater as an STD (Straight Technical Director). The role was not originally supposed to be British as Jim's grandma was clearly American but Dan Ellis' performance was so likable, it didn't even matter. The chemistry shared between him and the assistant director played by Katy McLaughlin brought some of the sweeter moments in the show.
I absolutely loved the scene where they held auditions for the production. A few highlights included Alejandro Sanchez Baquero as Spike who performed with a hilarious arrogance and presence that was reminiscent of a young John Leguizamo.
Madilyn Sweeten produced some incredible moments as the crazed senile piano player, Martha. Her wide-eyed outstretched face stillness will stay in my mind for a long time, and I’m okay with that!
Sean James's portrayal of Tyrone was a particular highlight. His delivery of a monologue constructed verbatim from a Craigslist ad was an inspired piece of comedic acting, imbuing his character with the realism
Out of all the zany characters on display though, Gay Jesus was my favorite of the play, performed by Ignacio Navarro with great flamboyance as a sort of spiritual mentor for the curious (but very much straight!) Jim.
A small technical aspect but one I really appreciated was the ingenuity of the entrances and exits used in the production. Actors were coming through the sides, through the front, behind stage and even utilizing the emergency exit. I felt this really added to the feeling to the whole play-within-a-play immersion.
Altogether, this was an exciting adult themed romp that is a welcome change to the usual Christmas Carol plays that go on this time of year. While it may be rough around the edges in certain aspects, I would definitely recommend checking it out in their final week on Friday 20th, Saturday 21st, Sunday 22nd December. Go see this play!