The Whistleaires' Big Christmas Show
review in the Oakland Tribune by Chad Jones
- / Home / Now
Playing & Coming Soon / Back to Media List
/ To email us
- Here 'tis...
Whistleaires ham it up with a holiday variety pack
- Three stars - Pucker up
- By Chad Jones
- Back in the days of vintage television, the variety show was a staple
of prime time. Toss a major
celebrity - Andy Williams, Perry Como, Judy Garland - into the spotlight,
then add a few guest
stars of both the musical and comic variety.
- Make sure you've got a slick but flimsy set and a floor full of slightly
befuddled dancers and let
the fun begin.
- These days, the variety show is legendary kitsch, an all-singing, all-dancing
state of grace that
can only be dreamt of by MTV youth. When we speak of variety shows, and
we do, we revere
them as under appreciated bits of pop culture that should have been preserved
entertainment of the post-millennial cynics.
- Thankfully, we have the vast wasteland of cable to help us re-live
cheesy TV, and we have the
Whistleaires to whip up ``Big Christmas Special," their ``fourth annual
fake Christmas special" at
the EXIT Stage Left Theatre in San Francisco's Tenderloin.
- The half-mocking, half-reverent tone achieved by director Meredith
Eldred means the audience
is in for some serious fun.
- This stage show, with its mondo-Christmas living room set of holly
trees out the window, stockings hung by the glowing fireplace and a portrait
of a demented elf,
conjures up the feel of 1959 with more than a healthy dose of Y2K irony
- The Whistleaires are Whistlin' Phil (Phil Worman) and Toots Romyn (Mark
Romyn), and they
are our hosts for 90 minutes of songs, specialty acts and ``a shaky plot
- The two enter doing what they do best: whistling. No kidding, these
guys are terrific whistlers.
Who knew sardonic twenty-somethings whistled?
- To the strains of ``Winter Wonderland," and in a move reminiscent
of Mr. Rogers, the bundled
up men change out of their winter gear into their nerdy sports jackets.
Toots is fetching in plaid,
while Whistlin' goes for a vertical stripe look.
- When not whistling, The Whistleaires banter in a nerdy, semi-funny
fashion. After discussing
how much they love Santa Claus and how they fought with him in Korea, ``shoulder
against Charlie," they introduce the evening's plot, such as it is.
It seems that Santa has lost his
mind and forgotten all about Christmas.
- Mrs. Claus (Libby Cox) tries to ignite a spark of memory by singing
``Santa Baby" (piano
accompaniment by David Malloy), but that doesn't work. The only thing that
seems to restore
his sanity is a constant stream of entertainment.
- That's convenient, because Toots and Whistlin' have lined up an entire
evening of goof-ball acts.
Eric Nelson (who also plays Santa) sings ``Run, Run Rudolph" while
accompanying himself on the
bongos. Nari Tomassetti does some amazingly unremarkable but funny magic
returning in a different costume to delight and astonish us with some of
the finest trapeze work
ever seen in the Tenderloin.
- The best act of all is an appearance by Sir Alec Richardson (Bob Cooper)
in full gorilla costume
to perform a monologue from ``Planet of the Apes." If ``the only good
human is a dead human"
speech doesn't get your Christmas spirit flowing, nothing will.
- Along with some generous tossing of candy into the audience and the
appearance of a French
hand puppet named Guy, the evening's highlights are The Whistleaires' numbers.
- It's hard to believe, but whistling duets can be exciting and funny.
Toots and Whistlin' aren't
selling a CD of Christmas songs in the lobby for nothing. Their ``Frosty
the Snowman" performed
as a military march is magisterial, and when they put on a Partridge Family
record and whistle
along with Keith and family singing ``Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree,"
the mind reels at the
missed opportunities to include a whistling brother or sister Partridge.
- The finale, a whistled selection from ``The Nutcracker," is done
in tights (shirts tucked in over
the boxer shorts, of course) and features some of the worst choreography
you've ever seen. In
other words, it's nearly perfect.
- There's only one thing the highly amusing ``Big Christmas Special"
is missing, and that's a
whistle-along number. But resurrecting the lost art of the variety show
takes some time. The
Whistleaires will undoubtedly get it right next year.
- Home / Now Playing & Coming Soon / Back to Media List / To