Pittsburghese and yuletide cheer converge in the Midnight Radio Holiday Spectacular at Bricolage Production Company’s space downtown.
No, this is not the live version of a local radio show that airs at midnight. Midnight Radio – a program of Bricolage – is a popular live theater variety show that has run for eight seasons. Structured like a 1940s radio broadcast with commercial parodies and music, the performers do zany skits before the audience. And in the Holiday Spectacular, the five performers stand before podiums that are dressed up as wrapped Christmas gifts, with other wrapped gifts on the floor, poinsettias and faux decorated trees to enhance the yuletide atmosphere.
The show begins with a takeoff on “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the Tim Burton classic. Brett Goodnack does an amusing and spookily spot-on imitation of the Jack Skellington character, called Josh Skellebenz in this program. Goodnack sounds like Danny Elfman, the voice that sings the Jack songs in the movie, when he sings “What’s This?” and “Making Christmas.” This number included many comical twists on the Nightmare show, like a ghost cat named One instead of the movie’s ghost dog name Zero.
Other skits in the 90-minute show, which doesn’t have an intermission, include a parody of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” song, substituting lyrics about black ice and the winter hazards it can cause in Pittsburgh.
You will see many Pittsburgh touches in the show, like references to the former Horne’s department store – which has a tree that wraps around a Downtown building during Christmastime to this day – and a “Miracle on Stanwix Street” interlude. A takeoff on the Christmas movie “Home Alone” places the story in the context of a dysfunctional family – namely performers Julianne Avolio and Amy Landis – in Homestead, with heavy Pittsburgh accents.
Another funny touch in the show is the twisted Christmas carols, with songs like a parody on “O Holy Night” which swaps in “O hear the collectors’ voices” for “O hear the angels’ voices.” This song is a play on the overspending we all tend to do around the holidays. Then, we hear holiday-themed Mad Libs, with the zaniness that results from plugging a random word into an unknown sentence.
Throughout the show, performer Jason McCune entertains the audience with a Frosty the Snowman impersonation. Wali Jamal plays the role of the alleged fourth wise man in the Jesus story, with an amusing local twist. Meanwhile, the audience gets the feel of being in an actual radio studio, with light-up signs that indicate when you are on the air and when to applause.
Punctuating the acts are short acoustic performances by local musicians that vary show to show.
Midnight Radio Holiday Spectacular, designed for ages 8 and older, runs through December 17th and ticket information can be found here.