Arts Listings

La Val’s Very Special Holiday Special

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday November 23, 2007

Down under at La Val’s Subterranean, the Impact theater company has already geared up for the season with their brand-new Very Special Money & Run Winter Season Holiday Special, complete with Xmas lights and a lit-up “Season’s Greetings” sign in red and green on the usual set, resembling a basement rec room. 

In this case, it’s the lobby, rooms and garage of a seedy hotel, where our intrepid couple of crooks on the lam, Bobby Jean Marshall (Jessica Rhodes) and Jimmy Jake McAllister (Alex Curtis)—aka Money & Run, the postmodern Bonnie & Clyde—are holing up for the holidays, hoping for a quiet Christmas, out of sight, mind and warrant or subpoena. 

Hard on their heels, as they strong-arm their way into the last room in a “no-vacancy” flea trap catering to hookers and crazies, are an expectant couple, Meryl (Seth Tygesen) and Josephine (Elissa Dunn), who get stabled in the garage. Everybody’s charmed at this cracker replica of the Holy Family, and the lucky pair themselves hold a loud, fractious talk about whether almost-due Josephine’s really a virgin, or if heavy petting in the back seat doesn’t count. 

Among others interested in the young parents-to-be is Big Momma Bob (Cynthia Brinkman, in a lusty turn), who wants the birth to be broadcast live from her liquor emporium—and is offering cash for the rights. And just when it seems to be a white trash Christmas, Frankie (ebullient Alan Bare) and his entourage blow in from the burg in full mafia fashion as The Three Wise-Guys, after Meryl to collect on a sucker bet and cash in on the Christmas kid. 

Rounding out the rout are Dr. Asswagon (comedic Jon Nagel) and Jimmy Jack Bodeen (Matt Gunnison), who seems to bear a personal grudge towards our hero. 

It starts out slow and amusing, but shifts into high and hysterical before too long, with funny fight and chase scenes. The cast of 14 does well, with Jeremy Forbing’s direction, in this burlesque of road and buddy pics, caper flicks, and pious holiday fare in general. Choco Couture’s costumes, like Big Momma Bob’s outsize Santa outfit with cowboy boots, add to the slightly surreal Tobacco Row decadence. 

It’s all a burlesque, perfectly suited to Impact’s entertainment mission, which often includes burlesque dancers, replaced here by hookers: Miyuki Bierlein (who doubles as a killer nurse and “assorted homeless”), Casi Maggio (also Angel, whose annunciation’s on a restaurant check, “like a fortune cookie,” and yet another killer nurse with a snap of the latex glove) and Sarah Thomas (Frankie’s moll as well). The chorus, whether dancing or, here, strolling by and taunting the leads, neatly vaudevillize this basement theater that packs ’em in, intent on fun, over their beer and pizza.