The funny people at Vancouver’s TheatreSports are at it again, this time with a brand new holiday show, Off-White Christmas. And while the first half is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from this 20 year old Vancouver institution, it is the second half of the show that shines like the Star of Bethlehem, and the talent of the actors is put to the test.
The concept for act one of Off-White Christmas, named we are told to take advantage of the marketing being done for the Arts Club’s production of White Christmas, is TheatreSports at its most basic. A family has gathered for Christmas dinner only to discover it has been delayed, but rather than kill the time with the more traditional charades or even a round or two of Trivial Pursuit, this family decides to play a few TheatreSports games instead, complete with the requisite suggestions from the audience. There is nothing too surprising here with a variety of traditional TheatreSports games played, albeit with a holiday flavour, and where on any given night the results can range from the mildly amusing to the wickedly funny.
But the real reason that Off-White Christmas isn’t just the same TheatreSports show re-gifted, comes in act two. If you have ever attended a previous TheatreSports show and marveled at the ability of some of the actors to conjure up entire, hopefully funny, scenes on the spot, imagine doing the same thing but this time with the addition of songs. By adding music, the TheatreSports experience was transported to a whole different level as the six actors* (which last night included Elizabeth Bowen, Graeme Duffy, Denise Jones, Ellen Kennedy, Shaun Stewart and Pearce Visser) created a 40-minute musical from a single audience suggestion.
Leading the way was Elizabeth Brown, but while Brown may have given us the impression she was the most comfortable in this musical TheatreSports production, the others were not far behind, serving up a complete improvised musical comedy with a beginning, middle and an end. And while not everything was completely successful, as is the risk with any improvised show, you’d have to be a pretty big Grinch not to admire a group of actors talented enough to largely pull it off AND who can find words to rhyme with guitar and Nunavut.
This holiday season make Off-White Christmas part of your holiday entertainment plans. Go for the seasonal laughs, but stay for the talent.
*Of course, like most Vancouver TheatreSports shows, the players will vary from night-to-night.
Off White Christmas
The Improv Centre, Granville Island
18-27 November & 30 November – 23 December
Visit http://www.vtsl.com for tickets and information.