‘A Very Tamarie Christmas’: Not your average Christmas show production

"A Very Tamarie Christmas" premiered this weekend at Catastrophic Theatre. Enjoy a bit of the holiday cheer and Christmas season in July, as audiences are taken through a hilarious, witty journey exploring all our holidays.

The true joy of this musical comedy is the sarcastic, biting truth repeated throughout lyric, book and each actor’s attitude. Book writer Patrick Reynolds has created an intelligent, truth telling criticism and pokes fun at the truth behind our country and the world’s most treasured holidays. Director, star, choreographer Tamarie Cooper, also The Catastrophic Theatre’s associate director and co-founder, she had her work cut out for her taking on so many of the important roles. She manages to not only bring out the best in herself but all her fellow cast and crew members.

The set design by Ryan McGettigan provides the perfect festive holiday feeling. Costume design by Tamarie Cooper with Claire Anderson is outstanding. A personal favorite in both costume and performance is the design for Flag Day. Abraham Zeus Zapata brings this holiday to life and the flags draped across him, worn on his head and those he waves in his hands are just one perfect example of how well this design team put together the ideal actors and costumes in order to bring the essence of each holiday to life.

The musical overall has a very “live from New York, it’s Saturday night” feel. It starts out with a very nice, rather cheery holiday number “It’s Christmastime!”, yet suddenly it turns into a holiday rebellion. Fellow cast members recite, nowadays-normal sayings about Christmas time, mainly the worry about being politically correct or not excluding any other religion during one particular holiday celebration. This flawlessly feeds into the next number “It’s a Secular Commemoration of an Unspecified Event”. Following this number, Christmas played by Greg Dean hands off the very last Christmas gift ever to Tamarie before announcing that there will be no more Christmas.

Both of these opening numbers are lively and fun and set up everything one will come to expect from this musical overall. It has a hosted live, unscripted yet somehow rehearsed feeling that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats not entirely sure what to expect next from the production or any of the actors on stage. The atmosphere creates for the feeling of the unexpected and leaves you with this childlike anticipation of seeing where the story will take you. If we are given a host it’s in the way of star Tamarie Cooper who has the ability create just as the holidays do, that excited, fun feeling yet does so in the context of reality.

After Christmas is no more, suddenly audiences are treated to “There are Plenty of Days to Celebrate” by the ULKH (Union of Lesser Known Holidays). This number sets the stage for the remainder of the production. This number particularly highlights the talents of the entire cast and crew involved as audiences watch trying to see if they are able to identify which costume belongs to what holiday and trust me it’s not as easy as you might think. There are many holidays we blatantly disregard and if nothing else, this provides a rather candid and honest look at just which holidays those are exactly.

Key holiday highlights include a rapping Susan B. Anthony played and sung by Jeanne Harris, a clever and pranking April Fool’s Day played by Xzavien Hollins and the holiday that steals the show Arbor Day played by Kyle Sturdivant. This show offers the audience a lesson and provides them key information to truly reflect upon and find comedy in the holidays we either hold most dear or ignore completely. This musical provides a fun, biting and all around good time for everyone involved. The cast and crew enjoy themselves just as much as the audience, which throughout the production, bursts out into loud laughs and applause. This is one theatre experience not to be missed this summer season.

“A Very Tamarie Christmas” runs now until August 30 at Catastrophic Theatre. Performances are every Wednesday through Saturday at 8 pm. Be sure to see this one of a kind Christmas story while you can. As always tickets remain "pay what you can" and can be purchased online at catastrophictheatre.com or at the door the night of the performance. Be sure to check your tickets online if possible, this show is selling out fast but be sure to call locally at 713-522-2723 or toll free at 888-852-9310 to see if tickets still remain.