The 99-Seat Beat: For holiday laughs and human kindness, head for L.A.'s small stages
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Not even a global pandemic has stopped the merry men of Santasia
by Steve Stanley
Not even a global pandemic has stopped the merry men of Santasia – A Holiday Comedy from putting on their 21st annual potpourri of wacky Benny Hill-like skits, SNL-ready videos, Broadway-parodying production numbers, nostalgic recollections of Christmases past, and Brandon Loeser in drag (rated R-for-language and H-for-heart).
No mere Zoom special this, producer/directors Brandon, Shaun, and Tania Loeser and associate producer Lon Gowan have put together a network TV-ready production guaranteed to satisfy friends and fans locked down at home and those who are getting their first taste of the Santasia magic starring Lon Gowan, Darren Mangler, Omar Heyward, Rusty Locke, Chey Kennedy, Brandon Loeser, and Shaun Loeser, and featuring Julie Dolan, Andrew J Hillis, Rich Warren, Bumbles, and Bill the Penguin.
And what a fabulous collection this year’s is, a mix of old favorites and new treats, beginning with a full-cast Zoomish take on The Lion King’s Circle Of Life featuring reindeer, wise men, and elves alike. Popular Claymation faves (San Andreas Snowman, Some Assembly Required, Pulp Christmas, Penguins Don’t Fly) are back to entertain and delight. Brandon appears as the angel Harold, harking to a pair of skeptical shepherds, Les Misérables gets transformed into Les MisérElves with a dueling Jack Frost and Santa standing in for Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, CATS make way for reindeer for a snow-covered “Memory,” and a preteen boy informs Santa in no uncertain terms what it feels like to have your Christmas wish not come true to the accompaniment of Dido’s “Thank You.”
Santa spars with reindeer Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci to do Goodfellas proud (with a special appearance by Hermey The Elf), the Loeser brothers recreate the family tradition of decorating the family abode with a trademark penguin up on the rooftop, Jolly Old St. Nicholas takes over for Alexander Hamilton in a favorite Santasia boys Broadway spoof, and what would Santasia be without its grand-finale Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies- meets-The William Tell Overture? A pair of PBS announcers are back to promote the latest Santasia -- A Holiday Comedy as only they can do, and so is each cast member’s favorite Christmas memory, each and every one of which is sure to provoke smiles and tears in equal measure. And best of all is Brandon Loeser’s pulchritudinous pair of pretty ladies, a tipsy lounge singer unable to forget the Frosty The Snowman who melted away and the loveliest of Bachelorettes getting ready to give the Bachelor of her dreams a single rose (actually a prequel to said lounge singer’s torch song).
Thank you Shaun Loeser for the invitation to this year’s show. You’ve got three more chances to order tickets for tonight, tomorrow, or Sunday. Just go to www.Santasia.com and tell them Steven sent you!
Santasia Review – Back and Better Than Ever
Twenty-one years and still going strong, SANTASIA has been delighting Los Angeles audiences with a hilarious sketch comedy show that focuses on the Christmas season. But, wait. Will the pandemic stop SANTASIA from continuing its holiday tradition? Happily, online vimeo has come to the rescue; and SANTASIA will keep offering its uproarious take on the holidays despite COVID-19 roadblocks. The online show will be broadcast live on select dates to keep your funny bone vibrating with belly laughs.
Nothing is sacred to the SANTASIA crew, including the three wise men (well, only two this year), everybody’s beloved Italian Godfather (Bobbo Natale at his scariest), and the Bachelorette who just can’t make up her mind. Jolly Old St. Nicholas gets streamlined by Hamilton, Nutcracker ballerinas hop onto Lone Ranger’s horse, and Santa and Jack Frost meet Les Miserables. In Santasia’s world, pop made clothes and babies, and a single dad tattooed his kids’ drawings on his leg. It’s a topsy-turvy world that has kept audiences chuckling for over two decades.
It’s hard to believe that only seven performers offer so many glances, groans, and guffaws. Spearheaded by the Loeser brothers Brandon and Shaun – both producers, actors, and co-writers – the SANTASIA cast includes Lon Gowan (associate producer, actor, and co-writer), and actors Omar Heyward, Chey Kennedy, Rusty Locke, and Darren Mangler. When these fellows team up – watch out, for Santa’s coming to town. Santa’s sleigh may be a bumpy ride, but it’s sure a hoot.
In typical SANTASIA style, skits go from the ridiculous to the sublime. How does a toilet paper roll as a cherished holiday gift strike you? Or those 20 pages of easy instructions to guide Dad in building his son’s bike on Christmas Eve? What is most remarkable about this production is the flexibility, versatility, and technological sophistication of the SANTASIA cast and crew in taking their holiday journey online. Their special brand of nuttiness, glitches and all, translates into a vimeo holiday gift for all of us.