Entertainment » Theatre

All About Christmas Eve

by Kilian Melloy
Sunday Dec 7, 2008
Penny Champayne and Ryan Landry raise some pixie dust in the hilarious new play ’All About Christmas Eve’
Penny Champayne and Ryan Landry raise some pixie dust in the hilarious new play ’All About Christmas Eve’  (Source:www.GoldDustOrphans.com)

After three seasons of celebrating Christmas with "Silent Night of the Lambs," Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans have a new offering for the Yuletide crowd of Boston theater-goers: All About Christmas Eve, a steamy tale of ambition and betrayal... not to mention a reindeer bikini, missing panties, and a towel that just won't stay on an otherwise-naked actor.

Riffing on "All About Eve," Joseph L. Mankiewicz's classic 1950 movie starring Bette Davis, Ryan Landry and The Gold Dust Orphans take the plot and characters from the film, transplant them to the Boston theater scene, and let rip. Margo Channing, played by Davis in the film as an aging actress faced with a young, treacherous rival pretending to be her friend (that would be Eve), is portrayed here by Landry as an aging actress faced with a young, treacherous rival looking to steal her stage roles in brilliant works involving "telepathic teenage reindeer."

Eve (Penny Champayne, bold and beautiful as ever in the role) is a homeless, star-struck fan when she's discovered sleeping in a dumpster by Karen (the fabulous Afrodite), wife of Margo's playwright, the not-so-secretly-gay Lloyd (Gene Dante). Overnight, the little gutter rat blossoms into a personal secretary and a ready-made replacement for Margo in all aspects of her life: her career, her love affair with her director, Bill (the dashing Chris Loftus), the mad adoration of the public, and the target of vitriol from theater critic Addison DeWitt (Neil Graham, a newcomer to the troupe whose performance is polished and deadly-damn-funny).

But Margo isn't going down without a fight: flapping her voluminous skirt, facing down her cowardly producer Max (Keith Orr, playing a straight guy, poor thing), stomping on cigarettes with a vengeance, and exchanging barbed vollies with her assistant Birdie (Olive Another, who wields some of the play's best lines with elan), Margo is a force of nature.

All About Christmas Eve is unmistakeably a Ryan Landry nugget; everything from the whip-sharp dialogue to the cardboard sets (by Windsor Newton and Lady Tomb Raider) and costumes (by Scott Martino and House of Turbulence) to the wire-worked model airplane standing in for an airport setting is characteristic of a Gold Dust Orphans production.

All About Christmas Eve echoes the original movie with fondness and even with a certain respectful thematic fidelity, though Landry's script makes room for delirious departures: a play within the play, titled "No, No Nativity," is the most blasphemously uproarious thing ever to grace a Christmas staging of the story of Baby Jesus (an adorable hunk played with red-hot sexy vigor by Foster Grant).

If the holidays are getting you down, this play is the shot of wisecracking, stylish fun that's sure to put a sparkle back into what might otherwise be a gray and horrible time... namely, winter in New England.

"All About Christmas Eve" plays through January 3 at the Machine Theater, in the basement of Ramrod, located at 1254 Boylston Street in Boston.

Performance schedule: Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., with two matinees: Sunday Dec. 21, and Sunday Dec. 28, both at 4:00 p.m.

Tickets cost $30 at the door, $28 if purchased online at www.theatermania.com (or call 1-866-811-4111).

Click here to read an interview with Ryan Landry.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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