By Bob Evans
Ah, yes, little Cindy Lou Who, famous toddler from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has grown up, grown older, parted from the Whoville upbringing, and led a sordid, but innocent life as she explains to groups of mostly unknown patrons while awaiting the arrival of friends for her Christmas Eve party in her bequeathed trailer home.
“Who’s Holiday!” written by Matthew Lombardo makes its Kansas City debut via Padgett Productions who secured one of nine production offers throughout the United States to mount the show in it’s initial journey outside New York. Prohibition Hall hosts the production from Dec. 13-22. But, time is short to see this guaranteed holiday soon-bo-be-classic. Founder and producer Nick Padgett said on that the production will return next season to delight Kansas City patrons.
Padgett prides himself in that his company produces shows that resonate to the counter-culture, younger audiences. Upcoming in 2019, “The Night of the Living Dead,” “Evil Dead–The Musical,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” and a yet-unannounced production at an unannounced location that will only be divulged a week prior to the show’s opening via email. Shhhhh…..the secret’s not out, but the hint: This year marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.
An adult, street-wise, jailbird, foul-rhyming Cindy Lou Who comes from the creative talents of Helena Consentino, whose range includes serious dramatic roles, to comedy parts, to a self-penned one-woman portrait of Gilda Radner, and to this hilarious take on the grown up, pot smoking, Grinch-sex addicted Cindy Lou Who. Consentino excels in the recitation of pages of rhyming dialogue so similar in format to Dr. Seuss children’s books.
From the moment she enters the stage, Consentino smiles, flirts, waves, connects with the audience and quickly puts them under her spell. The tongue-in-cheek performance moves back and fourth between pure silliness and light comedy as Cindy Lou unfurls her life story while awaiting a series of guests to her Christmas party. Unfortunately, Cindy Lou receives a series of regrets (with lame excuses) concerning the guest’s unfortunate circumstances that disallows their attendance at her party. Consentino uses her vast facial expressions, her split-second comedy timing, body language, costume, and vocal prowess to navigate each regret before fading back into her life story.
Never will the audience catch a malfunction in the character Consentino develops and builds through the show. While the show has some insightful moments and messages, they are given with a smile and a gentle nudge to contemplate. The show uplifts and Consentino just commands the stage from the entrance. With no other characters to play off of, she carries the entire burden of pages of rhyming dialogue and all the emotional needs of the show. Her performance is brilliant.
The creative team for “Who’s Holiday” is Katie Gilchrist, director; Nick Padgett, producing artistic director; Jill Smith, production manager; Edward Hayo, lighting designer; Francie Kapono-Kuzila; R.J. Parish and Nice Padgett, production designers; R. J. Parish, set construction; Tyler Thompson, sound design; Angie Scanlan, house manager; Jacki butler, production assistant.
“Who’s Holiday” concludes Dec. 22, so chances to see this fantastic piece are limited. However, Padgett said the show will return next season to lighten up the holidays. Prohibition Hall is a new theatre under reconstruction and conversion from its past incarnations. Padgett said that he wants the space to change with each production to have a new, different look. He said he wants all his shows to be fully immersive so the audience gets a new, fresh approach to each production.
Next up for Padgett Production, a newly conceived take on “Mamma Mia!” Padgett expects sold out performances in the limited space available at Prohibition Hall. Advance tickets will be available after Jan. 8, he said. To follow upcoming productions, follow Padgett Productions via their Facebook page.
Tags: Who’s Holiday, Padgett Productions, Prohibition Hall, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment