Off-Broadway Theater Review: NAKED HOLIDAYS (The Cutting Room)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on December 2, 2013

in Theater-New York


Directed by Russell Dobular and written by him and the Naked Holiday Ensemble, with additional material by Stacy Lane, Endtimes Productions’ annual Christmastime spectacle Naked Holidays, now in its 7th incarnation, subverts the holy days theme with a delightful burlesque variety show full of dancing, singing, comedy, music, and lots and lots of nudity.

"The Band" from NAKED HOLIDAYS, Off-Broadway at the Cutting Room

The Cutting Room venue provides table service throughout the performance (with a $20 per person minimum), but the nature of the show is such that this hardly interferes with one’s experience. If anything it enhances it – art always goes down better with alcohol. In fact, even though some of the writing could be a little stronger and some of the jokes a little funnier, none of this detracts from the overall charm of this adorable production, which begins with a depressed Elmo (who sat down at my table, despondently shaking his head) coming on stage and sticking his head in an oven.

"Family Hour" from NAKED HOLIDAYS, Off-Broadway at the Cutting Room

This leads to a musical number about seasonal affective disorder. That’s followed by Paula Deen, with black “assistant” in tow, cooking up latkes in bacon fat with an Orthodox rabbi and his wife as part of her sensitivity training. There’s naked ice-skating to the Winter concerto from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (performed by music director Serena Miller). There’s a skit in which Mrs. Claus’s attempt to get her workaholic husband to perform his spousal obligations turns into a free-for-all orgy with elves and satyrs and reindeer and a whole assortment of Christmas characters. There’s a zombie apocalypse, whose victims include Charlie Brown and Tiny Tim.

The grand finale, The Naked People Play, features a dressed couple playing a couple performing a break-up scene, who find themselves distracted by a score of naked people running around on and near the stage. The young man complains to his partner that no one is paying attention to their breakup scene. But that’s what everyone came to see, explains the young woman, they didn’t come to see us, they came to see naked people. This is true.

"Story Time" from NAKED HOLIDAYS, Off-Broadway at the Cutting Room

But although its focus seems to be mostly light entertainment, the show does achieve something remarkable with its frank, fearless and unrepentantly self-conscious approach: It manages to lift the veil of embarrassment and shock through which most of us ordinarily view public nudity, transporting us, in some small measure, to that time before Adam and Eve ate the apple, when being nude wasn’t shameful or weak or even necessarily sexual but rather sensual, easy and fun.

"Naked Nativity" from NAKED HOLIDAYS, Off-Broadway at the Cutting Room

The Naked Holidays Ensemble: Chris Johnston, Dave Chura, Jarrod Bates, Alfredo Guenzani, Mike Wirsch, Kelly Riley, Jack Gilbert, Eddie Rodriguez, Matt Glogowski, Chris Peyseur, Arley Morton, Phillip Casale, Kara Addington, Erika Lee, Alessandra Nahodil, Sarah Pencheff, Alinca Hamilton, Simone Bart, Lee’at Bruhl, Dara Swisher, Sarah Schoofs, Serena Miller, Samantha Amarel, Meridith Szalay, and Sarah Misch.

Naked Holidays
Endtimes Productions at The Cutting Room
scheduled to end on December 30, 2013
for tickets, call 212 691-1900 or visit Cutting Room

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