A postcard review of Forte Musical Theatre Guild’s Naughty… But Nice: The Big V

With the holidays upon us, what better way to celebrate than with something a little … different. Caroline Russell-King gives us a postcard review of Naughty … But Nice: The Big V.

Show: Naughty … But Nice: The Big V (5th Anniversary).

Playwrights/ Lyricists/Composers: Joe Slabe, Dan Perrott, Grant Tilly, Frank Loesser, Bill Nelson, Will Aronson, Jeff Tomson, Jordon Mann and George Frideric Handel (arr. Slabe). Direction by JP Thibodeau.

Production company/theatre space: Forte Musical Theatre Guild at Lunchbox Theatre.

Length: One act (One hour 45 min, no intermission).

Genre/s: Musical revue.

Premise: The adult Christmas show comprises 24 songs and monologues on seasonal tropes with the perfect balance of schmaltz and cynical songs.

Why this play? Why now?: This Slabe/Thibodeau formula is fast becoming a Calgary (anti)Christmas tradition.

Curiosities: I wondered if the show benefited from the bookends that were somewhat forced by the set of the currently running Lunchbox show. Like a highly polished diamond, I’d be curious to see if this sparkling jewel could benefit from one or two more cuts.

Notable lines: “I hope the bitch gets Hep C,” and, “The elf can screw himself.”

Notable writing: A cleverly written variety of ’80s rock, call and response, classical, rap, “ennui,” gospel and bawdy showstoppers that one could pun is this show’s forte. This year’s punch was spiced with a little political commentary on the Olympics, pipeline, legalization, consent and (my favourite) a take on one song temporarily banned from the CBC playlist.

Notable performances: A.D., musical director, lyricist and composer Joe Slabe sets up the premise of the radio studio and plays all the numbers, but the show really belongs to the tight and talented ensemble of Scott Olynek, Madeleine Suddaby, Justine Westby and Tenaj Williams.

Notable design/production: Kudos go to choreographer Danielle Desmarais. Singers perform without lavs (clip-on microphones), good choice. There was one minor tech glitch, but when it came to the special effects for the song Why Do I Live Where the Air Hurts My Face?, I was a big fan!

Notable direction: It’s so easy to see why the director is a recipient of the Greg Bond Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to musical theatre, among numerous other awards. Thibodeau delivers his grown-up Christmas magic. We already look forward to next year’s “sixth sense.”

One reason to see this show: In a world of family friendly Xmas shows, I recommend you get a babysitter to enjoy this licentious laugher.

Naughty … But Nice: The Big V runs at Lunchbox Theatre until Dec. 22. 

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here