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Holiday Respite

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

A quick look at three diverse productions

We may be in the thick of the holiday season, but it is still possible to get out of the house for a show. Three offerings currently on the boards provide an odd artistic sampling.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Okay, I had to go to Wikipedia for this one. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has been adapted for the stage by Drew McCabe from a 1964 film that is regularly featured on lists of the worst films ever made. I was a child in 1964, but my parents closely monitored my cultural intake, so it is no surprise that the original somehow escaped my consciousness. Here’s the gist: after deciding that their mechanized education system is too rigid, the Martians decide that Santa Claus is just the ticket to save the children of their planet. They determine to kidnap Santa, along with a couple of earth children, who they use in order to identify the real Santa among an army of Santa’s helpers. Deranged grade B sci-fi is definitely at the center of the Drew McCabe sensibility; he previously brought the sci-fi porn comedy, Orgazmo, to the stage. This time his co-conspirators are a group calling themselves Buffalo Chrysalis Theatre Company, which performs at Grange Theatre, 22 Main Street, third floor in Hamburg through December 28th.

It Was a Wonderful Life

A Christmas show in a cemetery only sounds strange. I’ve seen It Was a Wonderful Life, and it is actually entirely charming. Written and directed by Joseph Demerly, and performed in the lovely chapel at Forest Lawn cemetery—matinees only—the show brings several of the historic burial sites most famous permanent residents to life to share the wonderful lives they enjoyed and the spirit of the holidays. The presentation includes some very pleasing Christmas music, courtesy of Mrs. Irving Berlin, whose husband went on to write “White Christmas.” This year, the presentation involves a reduced cast and some doubling of roles, and features Kevin Kennedy, Loraine O’Donnell, Shayna Raichilson-Zadok, Christopher Standart, Michael Hake, and Demerly himself. The show continues through December 28, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Forest Lawn Chapel, 1411 Delaware Avenue.

There Goes the Bridge

Desiderio’s dinner theater in Lancaster has chosen an entirely different route, and a contrast to their recent hit courtroom drama, Nuts, with There Goes the Bride, by one of Britain’s masters of farce, Ray Cooney, and John Chapman. Best known for Run for Your Wife, one of the longest running farces in the history of the world, Cooney is famed for evoking joyful and dopey laughter. This play is about the upcoming wedding of a young bride and attitudes about premarital relations. Jay Desiderio directs a cast that features John Profeta, Lisa Hinca, Justyne Harris, Mike Breen, Monish Bhattacharyya, Mary Moebius, and Michelle Meer. The antics will continue through February 1st at 5827 Broadway in Lancaster.