|L - R Rob Elk and Pat O'Brien - Photo Ed Krieger|
I’ve got a list of things to do or see for the holidays. Let’s see It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sims), The Homecoming, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the new one on the list is Bob’s Holiday Christmas Party.
Boy howdy is this fun!
L.A.’s smashed hit is back! Bob’s Holiday Office Party written by Joe Keyes & Rob Elk and directed by Craig Anton is playing at the Pico Playhouse Theater in Los Angeles and is now in it 19th season in a very short run through December 21, 2014.
I love it when a packed house laughs in unison. And there is so much laughter, it’s no wonder this holiday show is in its nineteenth season! I saw it last year and I think it’s funnier this year under the magnificent direction of Craig Anton.
And like It’s a Wonderful Life I can hear the sound of prayers: “Somebody please help Bob Finhead (Rob Elk). He can’t make up his mind.”
Bob must have left the decorations in his office up all year because nothing has changed. The small still life town of Neuterberg lies peacefully now, with soft snowflakes on the windows. The big bulbed lights warms the pine tree needles causing the dripping of small disgusting bits of sap onto the old record player. And, inanimately, the record player begs for someone to make up their mind and drop the needle on some Christmas music from a scratching, popping, vinyl 45 or a 78 rpm. Yes, nothing has changed in Neuterberg.
Bob Elk is outstanding in his insurance office but one look and we know that he wants out. He has bigger dreams. He wants out so badly he can taste it, smell it, drink it, and deep-fry it. Time in his life for becoming an inventor, going to college, and saving mankind is running out. He’s wasted nineteen years, playing it safe selling insurance, and all he’s got to show for it is this darn Christmas party.
Oh, but what a Christmas party.
Sheriff Joe (Joe Keyes) is the first to join the festivities. He’s out of uniform, because of an unexpected expulsion incident, which cause him to change into what looks like a car mechanic’s outfit. But, other than that, and because of the snow, it’s a slow day for law enforcement.
“One of these days, I will make money on one of my inventions.” – Bob
If Bob could only fix the door to the bathroom life would be a lot easier. Joe has to move the door and sit on the pot, full view, and not a pretty sight. Not even bothering to find the handle, Joe walks away from the excessively filled toilet and over to tub of ice to wash his hands.
Bob tells Joe that he might be going to inventing college. He claps his hands, flushing the toilet, which is another invention, the crapper clapper, for which he proudly beams.
“Change is not good.” – Joe
Joe says he’s been hearing voices lately about Margie (Andrea Hutchman) meeting Bob in the backroom of the store, unbeknownst to her gay husband Roy Mincer (David Bauman). Another slight dig before Joe leaves to have a drink before the party.
Speaking of the devil Roy, wearing white and looking a lot like Roy Rogers, drops by with a small token, flitters about and says he must attend to his male house guest but will be back later.
Wearing on Bob is the idea that he is still in the insurance business, that his life will not get any better, and that his dream of being an inventor is slowly dying. Suddenly, a stranger, perhaps a savior, enters his door. It is Elwin Bewee (Nelson Ascencio) a successful businessman, television actor, and former humiliated stuttering classmate arrives in town to buy the insurance company. Bob is chomping at the bit.
The arrival of the Johnson twins in elf like costumes makes the party official. LaDonna (Maile Flanagan), and LaVoris (Johanna McKay), two George W. Bush lovers, take parting shots at Obama and call him a “Muslimnist”. The two express their dying devotion to Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz and blame Obama for “taking away our freedoms”. But the thing they take keen interest in is Bob’s relationship.
“How’s Margie? How’s her husband, Roy? Huh? Huh? Huh?” – LaDonna/LaVoris
It seems that everyone knows Bob and Margie’s not so well kept secret.
Margie joins them a short time later, face red as a beet, and looking like she’s been an observer on a nuclear test range.
Trouble comes through the door as wacked out, drugged out, beer-ed out Marty (Mark Fite) has just had another automobile accident in his van. This makes the 16th time, more than half were not his fault, including the one time he was asleep at the wheel.
Carol (Sirena Irwin) joins the party fresh from a mental institution with lyrics that cause the party to halt immediately. She doesn’t know where she is and her tight lips “pop” continuously before she is relieved of her partying duties.
Brandy (Sirena Irwin), a sex-crazed woman joins them late much to the enjoyment of Sheriff Joe.
I liked last year’s party but I liked this year’s party even more. From a practical standpoint Craig Anton’s direction flowed and made a lot more sense. Everything worked and I had a great time.
Nelson Ascencio as Elwin Bewee does a nice turn. His character was specific and his objective perfectly clear. Bewee has left the town and become rich. But, the town has not left him.
David Bauman is Roy Mincer and is marvelous in his process.
Rob Elk as Bob Finhead does another fine job. Finhead is a progressive clear thinker who takes everything in stride. And it would be safe to say that everything in the party office is fair game. Elk is also the co-author of this wonderful play that has changed from last year’s version and I would suppose the play changes every year. I mean who heard of Barak Obama in 1995?
Mark Fite is Marty. I didn’t see him last year but I think his version of the character makes a lot more sense, is a lot funnier, and in the context of the play serves a greater purpose. It is a great performance.
Maile Flanagan is LaDonna and is a wonderful performer. Do not miss this performance!
Andrea Hutchman is Margie and does a marvelous job. Hutchman is an actress that could fit many roles. Margie is a social climber and stops at nothing to get what she wants, when she wants it, including sex. (Except with her husband.)
Sirena Irwin is Carol and Brandy and is marvelous in each role. Irwin is a physical actress that is extremely funny and this is also another performance not to miss.
Joe Keyes is the other Co-author and Sheriff Joe. Keyes is terrific as Sheriff Joe and does some wonderfully amazing physical actions on stage. Keyes is wonderful in the role.
Other members of the cast are Dawn Brodey (Margie), Cody Chappel (Marty), Pat O Brien (Elwin Bewee), Ann Randolph (Carol/Brandy), and Pat Towne (Roy Mincer) who did not perform the night I was there.
Amanda Knehans did a very nice job as the Set Designer. Paige Stanley was the Lighting Designer. And Marissa Drammissi was the Production Stage Manager.
Other member of the production staff are as follows:
Kriss Meier – Assistant Stage Manager
Plays411 - Publicity
Fred and David at Ultra Creative – Graphics
Sam McCay – Web Design
Jeff Fontelera – Program Graphic Design
Eddie G. – Show and Pre-Show Music
Rob Elk – Santa’s Breaking In
Rudy Casoni – S’no Balls
Run! Run! Run! And take someone who can get you tickets!