by Hugh Hunter
If you are in the mood for irreverent, seasonal humor, check out “Who’s Holiday” (2016) by Matthew Lombardo, coming to Stagecrafters theater for one day only, this Saturday, Dec. 14, with 2 and 8 p.m. shows. Leave the kids home; this cabaret style entertainment is strictly for adults.
“Who’s” is a one-woman show directed by Mariangela Saavedra, a raucous, hour-long sendup of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss. But before Lombardo could run the play Off-Broadway in 2017, he first had to win a lawsuit filed against him by the estate of Theodor Geisel, successfully arguing that his play was a parody.
For sure it is, so much so that you cannot follow Lombardo’s racy script unless you know the original tale: Nasty Grinch lives in a cave on Mt. Crumbit where he bristles at the happy Whos who live in Whoville. He descends to steal their Christmas presents, craftily escaping 2-year old Cindy Lou Who as she catches him burglarizing the family home.
Back in his cave, Grinch expects to hear great wailing and lamentation. Instead, he hears the Whos happily caroling on Christmas morning. Grinch’s small heart grows three times bigger; he returns the presents and joins in the Whoville celebrations.
When we meet Cindy Lou here, she is all grown up and world-weary. She decorates her trailer park home for a party that no one comes to, then slowly tells us her sad story. In Lombardo’s naughty romp, she became pals with Grinch, but at the age of 18 the green ogre showed his true colors. (His heart was small, but other organs were ample.)
Lombardo’s rhyming couplets parody the writing in Dr. Seuss. When Cindy’s parents disown her, she reports, “When I told my parents they weren’t pleased in the least / I mean, who wants their baby girl deflowered by a beast.” She turns criminal, (the fate of Grinch’s dog Max is hilarious) and survives prison battered but unrepentant. I will not play the spoiler and reveal the “happy ending.”
“Who’s” is the latest Lombardo send-up to center on a growly woman. (“High” featured an in-your-face nun; “Looped” was about Tallulah Bankhead.) Kate Bianco stars as Cindy Lou Who, the archetypal funny- sad character you expect to find in one-woman shows. Lombardo’s script is not all that clever; the show sinks or swims on performance.
With Bianco, it swims more than sinks. She pours her personality into Cindy Lou, milking Lombardo’s couplets for innuendo. You sense she genuinely has a good time engaging the audience, descending to share leftover booze and food. She teases latecomers, toys with sexual proclivities and if you want to come on stage yourself, lonely Cindy Lou is happy to give you the chance.
“Who’s Holiday” will play on Saturday, Dec 14 at 2 and 8 p.m. at Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Ave. Tickets are available online.