Review by Bill Garry
The six improvateurs who rule the stage at
The Groundlings Holiday Show were so talented that when they came out at the end to take a bow, I had lost track of who was who. Tony Cavalero, Allison Dunbar, Christ Eckert, Ryan Gaul, Laird Macintosh and Greg Worswick buried themselves into so many different characters -- dum-dum ski bums, sexually-curious elves, foul-mouthed Santas, pushy Jewish fathers, dancing devils, middle-aged women in self-discovery, pyromaniac prepubescents -- that I actually forgot that there was only six of them.
The Groundlings have a beautiful theater on Melrose, and director Damon Jones keeps the doors and windows and physical action moving well. The show consists of 12 scripted sketches and 5 rounds of audience-instigated improv. The scripted sketches skewer holiday traditions (like Christmas parties, Chanukah candle lighting, gift giving), and the audience roars. (Be warned: This is not a show for kids.)
Some of the sketches go for easy laughs -- potty-mouth Jesus, for example, and too many mincing gay couples. But that's a small criticism for a show that moves fast and has a great three-piece band keeping the audience bopping during scene changes.
I was disappointed that the ensemble had only one woman and no people of color in it.
The best improv routine was performed last. The set-up had cast members recreating the first date of a couple from the audience that had been married 58 years. The couple were given a bell and a horn to either acknowledge, or correct, what the performers were doing on stage. This scene was not only hilarious, but touching. It did what no other scene did: infuse the show with a loving holiday spirit.
The Groundlings Holiday Show Runs Fridays at 8:00 p.m. through December 20
th. Followed by The
Groundlings New Year's Spectacular! on Dec 31st.
Groundlings Theatre is located at 7307 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit
Photographer: Shawn Bishop