Holly-time folly

A Very Naughty Christmas (Woodward Productions)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

December 1 – 17

Think you’ve been good this year? Well, “A Very Naughty Christmas” will soon fix that. Brisbane’s favourite adults-only yuletide comedy is back, more ridiculous than ever and now in its intimate new home of La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre.

A winter wonderland has never been so hot when, shadowed away, Brisbane’s sexiest carollers wholesomely tell us to have ourselves a merry little Christmas, before launching into a string of yo mama type jokes escalated to the extreme to get audience members into the unique franchise’s feels-so-good-to-be-bad holiday spirit. The 80-minute 18+ musical Christmas comedy show, is now in its sixth year, which means its traditions are well and truly established. From an Andrews Sisters type number with a twist to an all-male “Mean Girls” ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ intro tease into a pumping twerking type number, familiar nods are there for repeat offenders to appreciate. There is also a sacrilegious story time share of the real tale of Christmas, a long time ago in a galaxy far away, with audience ‘volunteers’ making its nativity scene amongst the most memorable parts of the evening.

The adults-only tone of the show also remains well and truly intact, with its political incorrectness, dirty language and low brow humour all crafted together with wonderful wit. Stephen Hirst again has a charming appeal as the cheeky Nick, and his pants are off almost immediately with his introductory, almost gospel-esque ‘Back Door Santa’ number. And later there is his cleverly-crafted, innuendo-laden, suggestive ho ho ho share about what Mrs Claus potentially gets up to at the North Pole et al.

The ensemble cast of scantily clad performers share in bringing us all sorts of salacious segments as cast regulars Hirst, Emily Kristopher, Aurélie Roque, and Shay Debney are joined by newcomers Ethan Jones, Em Whitefield and Taylah Ferguson. And while all performers are very good at what they each do, Debney is both a standout and an audience favourite as he scampers around as Santa’s poor put-upon elf, especially in his bounce about in ‘Six White Boomers’.

A live band (Dominic Woodhead on keys and guitar, Tom Collins on guitar and bass and Chris Evans on drums) helps in bringing to life the show’s soundtrack of Christmas classics as never heard before, and providing the bed upon which vocalists lay some splendid harmonies including in the traditional closer ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’. Yaxley, in particular, showcases some strong vocals in ‘Never Fall in Love with an Elf’, delivering the number from the Broadway musical based on the beloved 2003 movie about Buddy the Elf with a combination of wry pizazz and heartfelt lament. And thanks to Kristopher, you will likely never listen to the Divinyls quite the same way again.

Things are updated in light of 2022 events with lyrical mentions of Elon Musk and an attempted Tik-tok type of rebranding of Santa. After we hear about how Santa discriminates according to socio-economic status in this time of cost-of-living concerns, there’s also a high-energy Christmas can-can reminder of the shopping centre and family lunch elements of the most wonderful time of year, cresendoing into a spelling out in choreography moves, ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ style.

With numbers featuring burlesque, tap and even some riverdance moments, there is something for everyone in “A Very Naughty Christmas”… apart from the easily offended. If you like having a laugh, partial nudity and a mixed playlist of classic carols to modern pop, the irreverence of “A Very Naughty Christmas” is sure to get you in the mood for the silliest of seasons. Its mischievous celebration of the season of holly is full of filthy, frisky folly, making it the perfect escape from your festive season stresses, for return and newbie audience members alike.

Photos c/o – Joel Devereux

‘tis the season for sexy

A Very Naughty Christmas (Woodward Productions)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

December 9 – 19

Featuring a live band and ten sexy performers, “A Very Naughty Christmas” is the holiday comedy event you didn’t know you had to experience. With Christmas classics as you’ve never heard them before, this show is bound to get you into the holiday spirit. And back as it is for its fifth helping, it really is the gift that keeps on giving…and giving… and giving, for this is Christmas at its most salacious.

The show’s adults-only sentiment is evident from the outset and from the moment things open with Steel Panther’s ‘Sexy Santa’, it is clear that Santa (Stephen Hirst) is the star of Christmas. Saucy from the start, he is down to his underwear within 10 minutes, such has become tradition of the totally inappropriate (#inagoodway) tone of the filthy festive folly. Aurelie Roque is similarly as wonderful as ever in delivery of jaded musical numbers and audience interaction alike, while an Andrews Sisters style bung, bung, bung, bung reappropriation of ‘Mr Sandman’ to ‘Mr Santa’ is full of suggestion. And audience participation in re-enactment of a “The Night Before Christmas” storytelling segment is hilarious as always.

This is low brow humour, but crafted with wonderful wit. Indeed, it is surprising how many opportunities there are for punny innuendo around the iconography of this time of year. The scripts and musical numbers alike are full of clever erotic worsmithery, especially in their ability to keep the show fresh for a fifth season. Still, appearance of a “Mean Girls” ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ from Santa and his helpers goes down a treat as it has in the past.

After Emily Kristopher’s play up of the controversial ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ in attempted seduction of Elliot Baker and a desirous duet proposition of Santa in a highly-suggestive ‘Santa Baby’, one of the funniest face-hurting-from-laughter scenes comes from an attempted redirection of the tone of Santa’s message to be 2021 appropriate and inoffensively non-specific.

Directed and choreographed by Dan Venz and Maureen Bowra the energy of the show’s electric performers (Aurelie Roque, Carla Beard, Dan Venz, Elliot Baker, Emily Kristopher, Kate Yaxley, Patrick Whitbread, Shay Debney, Stephen Hirst and Taylah Ferguson) never wanes. And the live band (Chris Evans, David Spicer and Elliot Parker) is excellent in both turning familiar songs like ‘Santa Clause in Coming to Town’ into something never before imagined and adding energy to numbers like an SNL Christmas song classic.

With sexy carollers, a divine disco number and a tap-dancing nutcracker soldier, Brisbane’s favourite adults-only Christmas comedy is sure to have you feeling festive throughout. The now comedy cabaret tradition’s frisky fun is full of highlights, the memory of which will stay with you long afterwards, even if only in consideration of how dirty Christmas talk can literally spice up your life. With its peppering of pop culture references (including Elliot Baker leaning more into mumbling Mr Bean contrivances) and new take on mischievous Christmas concepts, “A Very Naughty Christmas” is sure to take its non-feint-hearted audience members on a sleigh ride to hilarity, regardless if they are on the naughty or nice lists.

Back for four

A Very Naughty Christmas (Understudy Productions)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

December 3 – 13

It takes a lot to make audience participation in theatre successful, especially when performers are having to work hard in guide of ‘volunteer’ contributions, however, in what has become “A Very Naughty Christmas” tradition, deviant Santa Stephen Hirst and Stacey de Waard ensure that this section of Understudy Productions’ 2020 show is once again one of its highlights. Of course audience involvement looks a little different this year, without any on-stage participation, however, in the show’s fourth year, it is still as funny as ever as the audience is given “A Christmas Carol” unlike any other.

There is a familiarity to other sections of the adults-only Christmas comedy too and move along from a punctuation to grammar gag amongst its easy low-brow humour. Aurélie Roque gets into the holiday spirits to bitterly share of her bedroom issues with Saint Nick in a totally-inappropriate ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ and an Andrew Sisters with a twist number delivers an upbeat ‘Let it Snow’. There is return too of the perennially favourite “Mean Girls” ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ routine, masterfully mixed into the rum pump um pum of Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes’ ‘Drummer Boy’ to amp up the energy. Comedy and musical numbers are appropriated updated with WAP and TikTok type pop culture references (most notably in Emily Kristopher’s naughty nod to the role technology can play in creating connection over the holidays) and even some political touches. And things still tie together nicely with a ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ closing snowfall of red and green confetti to affix an exclamation point to a night of shared celebration at having made it through this dumpster fire of a year.

Pre-show, those new to experience of the franchise are almost lured into expectations of tradition with share of ‘We Three Kings” et al Christmas classics and a lively ‘Feliz Navidad’, from Brisbane’s sexiest carolling tin soldiers, Melissa Russo, Steph Long and Santa’s little helper Shay Debney. What follows is a show of cabaret style escapism featuring a range of musical styles and wonderful harmonies. Indeed, all numbers display the abundance of vocal talent within the cast and the live band (Tom Collins on keys and guitar, Chris Evans on drums, Elliot Parker on bass and band leader Luke Volker on keys) is again excellent in filling familiar tunes with appealing vigour. And Wesley Bluff’s lighting design works a treat, expertly guiding the audience from, for example, a peppy duet about puberty to Elliot Baker’s nightmarish ‘White Christmas’ yearn for return from a Christmasless life

Again there is no narrative as such, but instead a collection of segments set to show us how naughty is the new nice. From burlesque shows of skin and a David Cuny stiptease to bawdy reappropriation of traditional lyrics and a new imagining of the iconic “Love Actually” doorstep notecards scene, there is something for everyone in “A Very Naughty Christmas”… apart from the easily offended. While the upgrade from the Visy to Powerhouse Theatre represents a loss of intimacy, it does reveal more friends in which to share revel in its naughtiness. And thankfully, while Christmas comes only once a year, “A Very Naughty Christmas” is making appearance twice most nights for those wanting to get their tinsel tickled and bells jingled.  

Thrice the naughty > nice

A Very Naughty Christmas (Understudy Productions)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

December 4 – 15

78955021_2240313526068702_1617409375717031936_o.jpg

“Get ready to have your stocking stuffed … Santa’s pulled a brand-new show out of his sack, and you’ll find something you love, whether you’ve been naughty or nice” …. so the advertising for the third year of “A Very Naughty Christmas” promises. Carols by candlelight it isn’t; this is low brow humour at it most improper (though it does include a punctuation joke). The sensibility is the same as its previous incantations, although there is no real narrative this time. Rather, the show is more cabaret style escapism featuring a range of musical styles and even a tap number, all with its trademark sense of cheeky fun.

78684964_2244192939014094_7272487798114877440_o.jpg

Aurélie Roque is every bit the bitter vixen in her share of a filthy and fabulous ‘Jingle Bells’ and Stephen Hirst makes for an exciting sexy and suggestive Santa, even in an almost disturbingly dark ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’. Naughtiness is all through the Visy Theatre house, not just through bauble shaking, but also in the show’s clever changes to the lyrics of popular Christmas songs to make them more mischievous (Standouts include a highly-suggestive and absolutely hilarious ‘Santa Baby’).

78951561_2240313992735322_1220058985973940224_o.jpg

Andrew Sisters with a twist take us from an upbeat ‘Let it Snow’ to a bouncy ‘Six White Boomers’ number. And it is particularly pleasing to see the return of a choreographically-perfect “Mean Girls” ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ routine, a clear audience favourite. There is even a Christmas story as cue for audience participation, with ‘volunteers’ making its nativity scene among the most memorable you will ever see.

78819589_2240313919401996_1188111533167607808_o.jpg

Rather than rely on laughs alone, the show also stands on its musical merits through the showcase of wonderful harmonies. Indeed, all numbers display the abundance of vocal talent within its cast and the live band (Chris Evans on drums, Elliott Parker on bass and Musical Director Jake Bristow on keys) is excellent in filling familiar songs with energy and interest.

78688820_2240313729402015_9029740046269284352_o.jpg

Elliot Baker showcases his incredible vocals in an alternative take on the traditional song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, with bombshell babe Emily Kristopher, and his Mr Bean-ish lead of the band in a jazzy ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, is a late-show highlight. And, as he has in its every outing, Stephen Hirst again slays it as the show’s deviant Santa (#punintended)

78906944_2240313792735342_4272660962441428992_o.jpg

This is Christmas as you’ve never seen before, unless you were lucky enough to experience the show in 2017 and/or 2018. Its only shame is that Santa only comes once a year…

Photos – c/o Joel Devereux

Bad Santa salaciousness

A Very Naughty Christmas The Second Coming (Understudy Productions)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

December 6 – 16

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, especially for new-to-the-workplace Joseph (Elliot Baker) who is keen to embrace the spirit of the season, especially with Holly (Sophie Christofis). And that isn’t the only of the shy little elf’s problems, as he struggles to keep his real identity secret. So begins Understudy Productions’ “A Very Naughty Christmas The Second Coming”, which rather than telling the story of Santa’s raunchy reindeers as it did in the show’s initial 2017 outing, gives us insight into the sex and drug-fuelled world of his elves, who despite stereotypes to the contrary are not super jolly all of the time.

47680025_1670613833038677_5833330109326557184_o.jpg

Although its cast is smaller, the adult only tone of the show remains the same; the 80-minute experience is full of political incorrectness, dirty language and a whole lot of skin. And sure enough Santa’s pants are off within the first five minutes. Indeed, this is a Christmas as you may have never seen before, even though it has all the hallmarks of a seasonal television special: The Night Before Christmas story re-enactment courtesy of audience ‘volunteers’ in reindeer et al roles, song dance breaks and even a tap dance number. Its more in-your-face than innuendo style of Santa-mental celebration is still shocking and very funny, but some jokes fall a little flat and overall the show lacks a little of its previous on-point, a little rough-around-the-edges salacious appeal. Still, the audience seems to love its every inappropriate moment.

Highlights include Aurelie Roque’s dry delivery of a tell-it-as-it-is song about the roasty-toasty weather the comes along with Christmas in Australia. And No-el’s (Austin Cornish) reappropriated ‘Winter Wonderland’ revelation of what is beneath his surface. Indeed, Cornish gives a dynamic performance physically and though his versatile vocals, seen for example in the show’s take on Saturday Night Live’s ‘My Dick in a Box’.

47395333_1670613826372011_8164233105956143104_n.jpg

Stephen Hirst has a charming appeal as the cheeky Nick, loving the attention of dirty girl Carol (Emily Kristopher) and in fact everyone who wants to ride on his sleigh. He is also once-again perfect in his nudge-and-a-wink nods to the audience, although you will never look at Santa the same way again. Indeed, if the movie “Bad Santa” was a musical, it would probably be something like this. There are no real morals to these stories, just lots of frivolity and indelicate amusement.

47431268_1670613989705328_4411305831060996096_o.jpg

Director Dan Venz’s choreography is full of colour and movement, and the live band (Chris Evans, Ellito Parker and Music Director Tnee Dyer) is excellent in filling familiar songs like ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ with energy and interest, meaning that whether you’re naughty or nice, you will likely enjoy this mischievous celebration of all things Christmas because just as last year’s smash success showed, the comedy cabaret’s unadulterated, frisky fun is undeniable.

Reindeer revelations

A Very Naughty Christmas (Understudy Productions)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

December 7 – 16

“Naughty is the new nice” we are told as “A Very Naughty Christmas” begins with Pentatonix’s ‘Good to be Bad’. From here, the show follows snippets more so than stories the little family that surrounds Santa (Stephen Hirst), the scantily clad Saint Nicolas who sizzles onto stage with a swaggersome ‘Santa Claus is Back in Town’, Elvis style.

24775247_947324058754312_9223190349193624842_n.jpg

Featuring a live band, ten performers and Christmas songs as you’ve never heard them before, this is a Christmas at its most salacious. And its winter wonderland is never as hot as when the dryly-humourous Vixen (Aurélie Roque) shares a filthy and fabulous ‘Jingle Bells’. Apparently, animosity runs through the reindeers’ ‘classic office dramas’. Not only is Vixen regretful of her romance with Nick, but Comet (Claire Owen) hates the oft put-upon Rudolph (Jason Bently) for trying to steal her role as head navigator, so is determined to seduce Santa to let her light the way. And the scampy Prancer (Adwan Dickson) is somewhat inhibited by his Judaism.

24991351_10101070600260959_491758655358413093_n.jpg

The show is cleverly constructed to combine santa-mental yuletide songs with reimagined Understudy Production’s unique and far-from traditional takes. An all-ensemble finish with Tim Minchin’s contrarian carol, ‘White Wine in the Sun’ is perfect in its universal emotion and inclusive sentiment as much as its melodic delivery, leading into Mariah’s merriful ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ to fill even the most bah humbug of souls with the sprint of the season. The lovestruck Dasher (Lachlan Geraghty) and anxious Dancer (Monique Dawes) also share a lovely ‘Last Christmas’.

24900072_947323725421012_8457667080174506189_n.jpg

Certainly “A Very Naughty Christmas” showcases the abundance of vocal talent within its cast. More roadie than reindeer-like, Cupid (Chris J Kellett) delivers a strong, melancholic initial traditional take of ‘White Christmas’ before transporting it to a tongue-in-cheek more literal, bigoted bogan place of reminisce. Ruby Clark showcases strong vocals in her sing of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ to equally naughty Donner (Emily Vascotto). And when Rudolf is finally given his moment to shine, shine he does, courtesy of Bently’s vibrant vocals. This is all of course due in no small part to the wonderful work of the on-stage band of Keita Neralic on guitar, Dan Smith on drums and Elliot Parker on bass, under Musical Director Tnee Western-Dyer on keys.

24909550_948149532005098_6758415464963108791_n.jpg

With everything from classic carols to modern pop and even an all-male “Mean Girls” bit, “A Very Naughty Christmas” is the perfect experience to get audiences in a holiday mood. Though there are some political pokes, everything is light-hearted. Indeed, there is a tap number and even a ‘Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’ singalong. With sugar and spice and all things both naughty and nice, it is a wonderful celebration of the sentiment of this special time of year, full of delightful fun and rather-not-know revelations like why Santa needs to get the sleigh reupholstered so often.