With pizza-smeared faces and spilled soda in their laps, my two grandsons (7 and 8) watched in open-mouthed wonder as the Prairie Dog Playhouse began its wild and silly Christmas show, The X-Mas Men.
As the title suggests, The X-Mas Men is a take-off on the popular X-Men comics and movies, with all the usual suspects: Storm, Magneto, Rogue, Wolverine and Mystique. But in the Prairie Dog presentation, the names have been changed--not to protect the innocent--but to add to the raucous humor of the play. (And probably to avoid plagiarism lawsuits.) So, with Santa Claus as the star, the X-Mas Men include Snowstorm, Magneato, Rogurt, Yuleverine and Miss Take, with some new characters, (Miss L. Toe, Speedo and a talking Mirror, alias Elvis) thrown into the mix for good measure.
But what you must realize is that X-Mas Men do not fool around. They are concerned with serious stuff--like saving the world, Christmas and Boise all in one fell swoop.
The opening chorus is typical of the high voltage energy of the show, with the bizarre make up and costumes startling anyone not familiar with the X-Men characters. Sarafina Rodriguez is the most noticeable with her bright-blue face and bruising pratfalls. As Miss Take, (originally Mystique) she is an enthusiastic villainess teamed up with Carly Latimore as Miss L. Toe, a slinky, black clad evildoer who wants to "rule the world!"
When Kid Sticky, an elf-like character, in a fit of pique, abandons Santa to become the metal attracting, evil Magneato, John Gibbons dons a stunning red satin helmet and joins forces with Miss Take and Miss L. Toe to ruin Christmas, rule the world and conquer Boise, somewhat in that order.
Fighting these bad, bad guys are Santa, boisterously portrayed by Ken Mackie, gorgeous Chimena Cole as silver complexioned Snowstorm, and goofy George the janitor who pretends to be Yuleverine, played goofily by Gary Winterholler. The role of Rogurt, based on Rogue, whose touch sucks the life out of anyone, is shared by Sarah Oneida and Aubrey Winterholler. Rogurt turns anyone she touches into a Christmas shopping maniac. (Gosh, when did she touch me?)
Speedo, one of the kids' favorite characters, is played alternately by two talented kids, Dominic Proulx and Chris Scott. Author McCullough also appears in the show as the bespectacled narrator and the chatty Mirror.
It's hard to criticize a production this zany, but it does have one problem that I've noticed at other PDP shows. The performers project their voices well, but with the manic pace of the shows, it is hard to understand some of the lines, because the actors do not enunciate crisply enough and the words, although loud, run together. Diction coach, anyone?
As the plot thickens, the villains capture the good guys, Boise suffers a blackout, the Prairie Dog Playhouse is infiltrated and--well, I don't want to give away the ending, so suffice it to say, this show even steals from A Christmas Carol. They have no shame! But they do have a way about them that insures laughs, boos, cheers and a jolly good time!
The X-Mas Men
Written by Tate S. McCullough and directed by Cammie Pavesic
7:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 8; doors open at 6:45 p.m.
Prairie Dog Playhouse at The Alano, 3820 Cassia (at Latah)
Tickets $10 adults; $8 seniors and students; $6 children 12 and under
Reservations 336-7383 or email@example.com