Live theater, unsolicited commentary. From Detroit to Lansing.


If you crave sincerity and the warmth of human kindness this time of year, look elsewhere. This joint effort of Who Wants Cake? and Sweetlove Productions is hardly even a Christmas story, but rather a loosely plotted comedy that happens to be set at the North Pole. However, if your idea of a happy holiday is spewing hot toddy through your nose from laughter, be sure to stay up late for The Real Housewives of the North Pole.

The original script, by director Marke Sobolewski and cast member Cara Trautman, draws inspiration from the Bravo network's Real Housewives series. Supposedly, behind every great man is a great woman, so here we look into the lives of Mrs. Claus, Mrs. Kringle, the mayor's wife, an uninhibited divorcee, and the new woman in town, whose contractor husband was hired to save the struggling Pole. The writers draw on the reality-TV framework with sparing use of "confessional" interview scenes, but aren't afraid to stray from the source material and let the simple story tell itself. The women are at their best in group scenes as they drink, fight, give advice, go on excursions, suspect and spy on each other, and throw a fundraiser. Although you don't have to like the Real Housewives franchise to enjoy this play, fans of "Tardy For the Party" should also be satisfied by the included spoofs.

Each housewife is written to the actresses' strengths. As longtime collaborators with Sobolewski, Trautman and Lauren Bickers have previously played versions of these characters: the former a pugilist sparkplug, the latter a disturbingly self-confident sexual dynamo. Still, I had never seen them go to such a depraved extent before. The material is gloriously risqué, with a few scenes bringing the audience to the point of screaming laughter. As the ringleader, Jessica Claus, Jamie Warrow is a smoking, drinking anathema to the first lady of Christmas we're used to. Southern tart Trista Montgomery (Christa Coulter) expertly plays saucy notes of mystery, and Jesus-freak Mary Margaret Cross (Dyan Bailey), though a bit one-note, delivers a taste of brilliant misdirection at the play's conclusion.

The set is simple enough (it's designed primarily for the Who Wants Cake? mainstage production of The SantaLand Diaries & Season's Greetings, which opens Friday), with a white-painted stage floor that's a nice arctic touch, almost suggestive of being stranded together on an ice floe. I also appreciated the costumes, especially some painstakingly styled hairdos, and fans of shoes should sit near the front and keep an eye on Coulter's feet.

The Real Housewives of the North Pole doesn't stray far from the brand of comedy these artists have been practicing for years, but who cares? I'm content to see new offerings in the same mold so long as they make me laugh, and there's no shortage of laughter in this spicy Christmas treat.


  1. Unknown said...
    and this one....
    Anonymous said...
    You got to love Dyan Bailey

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