A Very Tamarie Christmas [Review]

Tamarie Cooper‘s inventive musicals are a staple in the Catastrophic Theatre season and continually bring in large audiences and I am definitely apart of that cult following.

This year’s musical beat all retail to decorate for the holiday season because A Very Tamarie Christmas was every bit the traditional Hallmark card worthy decor – presents, bows, snowflakes, a snowman, reindeer, Santa and anything else your child-like heart could imagine!

At the center of this year’s story, Tamarie’s quest to fill a void left by suave-sounding, drankin’ personification of Christmas, the holiday itself decides to leave the calendar altogether, is bombarded by a slew of less appreciated days fighting for Tamarie’s affections. The audience meets expected holiday characters such as the mildly violent, Irish drunk that was St. Patrick’s Day and the colorful trickster that is April Fool’s Day, each embodying stereotypical tropes we identify with both holidays. Secretary’s Day and Arbor Day were just two of the very obscure “holidays” that unfortunately didn’t stand a chance to replace Christmas but were nonetheless hilarious in their attempts to steal Tamarie’s interests complete with bright, 80′s power-suits (shoulder pads included) and a lone, timid tree, respectively. Not to be outdone, it was the crass, rapping Easter Bunny, complete with twerking backup dancer bunnies, that was one of the most aggressive but absurdly fun holidays to battle for the coveted spot of supreme holiday that would’ve easily won my vote!

However, what Tamarie Cooper has created for this year’s Catastrophic musical is not simply an homage to her favorite holiday, but more importantly an intelligently written, light-hearted, satirical criticism of American culture’s true value of our favorite holidays, cleverly veiled in an uber-talented ensemble and awesome costumes. Tamarie has done her research- giving brief statistics and the history of most of the holidays. President’s Day is really a marketing ploy to buy new furniture and mattresses; the meaning of Thanksgiving is masked by the loom of the ever-growing problem that is “Black Friday;” Christopher Columbus is no martyr of the “new world” but rather a key factor in the genocide of Native Americans; Labor Day gives no relief at all to anyone in any service/labor industry; Memorial Day is an excuse to dust off the grill and get drunk in a neighbor’s pool and less about honoring fallen heroes of our country; Pagan holidays have evolved to be religious and religious holidays have been reduced to a time for candy- completely unrelated to its respective religious doctrine and text. I found myself reflecting on how I celebrate the holidays addressed in the productions, and how much I time spent dedicated to honoring the reason for that holiday, as well as, how many retail opportunities I’ve seized due to these special days=- no one leaves this production completely innocent– we are all guilty of so much Tamarie calls to our attention. However, it’s not like you’ll leave this production with a lump of coal, on the contrary Halloween tricks and treats are passed around for audience members!

“A Very Tamarie Christmas” is a damn good time full of tap dancing, sarcasm, pop culture references and just enough holiday cheer to hold you over until December 25th… or rather September 25th, when the first signs of Christmas decor are sure to appear in your local CVS, Walgreens and Target.