Review: A Very Phoenix Xmas, A Must See Show

Time after time the Phoenix Theatre is able to transform their audiences from adults to a bunch of big kids. The magic they use to achieve this in their newly opened A Very Phoenix Xmas is no exception. For a holiday show with some spice, on a night when you can leave your Indianapolis kids at home, A Very Phoenix Xmas wins my vote for best holiday show of the Indianapolis theatre season. From tongue in cheek sketches to an impressive tap dance routine and even the touching story of Jesus’s birth from writer Kurt Vonnegut, A Very Phoenix Xmas puts an adult spin on the holiday season, reminding us in their own clever way the true meaning of Christmas.

It is very easy to get caught up in the hype of the holiday season. As we try to  explain to our Indianapolis kids why this season is so very important, it is easy to forget yourself in the holiday madness. Often times December slips by in such a rush, we forget to take a moment to appreciate life, laughter, sadness and joy. In one hour and forty five minutes, A Very Phoenix Xmas will recharge your holiday batteries and give you the spark you need to keep Christmas alive for yourself.

Though the show is jam packed with a series of newly written sketches from playwrights around the United States, song and dance numbers and even a Video Seasons Greetings from the Phoenix Theatre staff, the play runs fast. What makes the show magical is the amount of fun had by the cast. Jason Gloye, Stephen Hunt, Amanda Lynn Meyer, Sara Riemen, Michael Shelton and Gayle Steigerwald compose an ensemble filled with holiday cheer.

The Phoenix Theatre manages to put holiday cheer in any situation with a wink and a nudge. From the celebration of Hannu-Clog to Rainbow Connection as a holiday tune that makes perfect sense, A Very Phoenix Xmas is governed by its own holiday rules, where anything can happen. Forget the dancing Santa’s this year. The men of A Very Phoenix Xmas form a new dancing posse under the alias Little Drummer Boyz, with a marvelous and stunning solo routine by Shelton.

The second act of the play strays into the holiday abyss of old ideas with an American Idol send up. However, the cast does an excellent job establishing early on that anything is possible, and loads of fun are guaranteed. Because of this you gladly traverse this road with them. Contestants present unusual and clever new holiday songs from Mistletoad to Kugel. The break out star of this section is Amanda Lynn Meyer, who captivates the audience with a hilarious new arrangement of Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

The cherry on top of the Phoenix’s holiday magic is most definitely Gayle Steigerwald’s performance of Kurt Vonnegut’s Sun Moon Star, an imaginative telling of the birth of Jesus. Vonnegut’s story transcends personal spiritual celebrations this winter and is the perfect choice to end a show like this. I found myself leaning forward in my chair, as if at grade school story time, while Steigerwald gently relayed Vonnegut’s beautiful message. Accompanied by the ensemble in black with panel illustrations straight from Vonnegut’s children’s book, the finale of A Very Phoenix Xmas leaves you with that great warm feeling as you head out into the cold streets of Indianapolis. This show is a must see in my book!

For more information about show times and tickets, visit the Phoenix Theatre’s website. Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis in the Indianapolis cultural district, Mass Ave, the Phoenix Theatre has a perfect location for making a full night. With plenty of Indianapolis restaurants and Indianapolis bars located in walking distance from the theatre’s front door, planning the perfect night is easy at the Phoenix Theatre. Check out the Circle City Lights now on Monument Circle to complete your holiday traditions.

Stay tuned to Fun City this season for all the latest on holiday Indianapolis events and Indianapolis arts.

A Very Phoenix Xmas
November 27 through December 20, 2009

The Phoenix Theatre
749 North Park Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202