Do you REALLY mean Every Christmas Story Ever Told???

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(Christmas Story)

Christmas Story

Yes.  Just about.  “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some)” a comedy by Michael Carleton, Jim FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, is directed by Hemet’s own Kami Martin.

How just three actors can keep the energy, laughs and action going for almost 2 hours is beyond me.  Shenn Sellers, Johnny Thunder and J. Kay Weldon are upbeat, hilarious and on-point in a Christmas play that is the epitome of the word “zany.”

Hemet’s own Kami Martin, director of this only slightly-organized mayhem, never lets the action lag.  The lines are delivered quickly, wryly and with as much humor as possible.

Shenn Sellers starts out as, well..Shenn Sellers.  J. Kay Weldon and Johnny Thunder do the same, but very quickly, a dizzying succession of Christmas icons from, well every Christmas story ever told, materializes onstage as if by magic.

Sellers hilariously attempts to stage his favorite Christmas play, “A Christmas Carol,” while Thunder and Weldon have other ideas.

In short order, Scrooge, Mr. Potter from “Its a wonderful life,” Yukon Cornelius from “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,” Mr. and Mrs. Claus and at least a dozen more characters come to life, interspersed with the actors themselves…and all seem to instantly materialize, on-stage.  

Forget the fourth wall: forget any time-worn convention from any play you’ve ever seen: just sit back and get ready to laugh loudly and often.  You also might get pulled up to the stage as there’s audience participation a-plenty, just in case your attention might be allowed to lag for a second.

Speaking about “not lagging for a second,” technical director Jared Kramarsky is on-point with sights, sounds and gags that accentuate every nuance of this ballet of sight-and-sound extravaganza.  Stage manager Billy Stinnet has his hands full and handles it all with ease, as the perfect support for the on-stage talent.

Johnny Thunder’s “Mr. Potter,” Shellers’ vain-glorious attempts to finish his “Marley” speech and Weldon’s amazing energy, split-second character and costume changes are all worth the price of admission.  

You’ll see and hear every cliche and every Christmas cartoon and convention ever created, lampooned to total perfection.  

As someone who has worked with both Sellers (“The miss firecracker contest”) and with J. Kay Weldon (indirectly, in Martin’s November Cabaret, also at DVAC) I thought I knew their respective strengths, but I was wrong: both actors sing, act, joke and wise-crack like no one has ever seen them before, and both handle the action as though they’re seasoned stand-up comedians who have what it takes to drift in-and-out of characters with ease.  

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s this guy named, “Johnny Thunder.”

Johnny Thunder came as a complete surprise: his timing, his little vocal asides and his spot-on mugging add hilarity, pace and humor to an already-outized presentation that is directed with staccato pace by director Martin.

Be ready to revisit every treasured Christmas trope, presented as you have never seen them before in, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some).”  It promises to be the perfect note to kick off the Christmas season.

The show runs at The Diamond Valley Arts Center (DVAC), Friday, December 20 at 7p, and Saturday December 21 at 2p and 7p.  Find tickets online at www.thedvac.org

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