Saturday, December 8, 2012

Take and eat...ewww!

At the risk of being struck by lightning I attended a performance of Three Men and a Baby Jesus, the current late-night offering at Balagan Theatre. I'm happy to report that there were no electrocutions and a lot of laughs at the one-act show, written by Balagan company member Matt Smith and directed by artistic director Shawn Belyea.

L-R: Ray Tagavilla, Ashley Bagwell, the Savior, and
Curtis Eastwood in Balagan Theatre's Three Men and a
Baby Jesus.
Somehow they remind me of Steve
Guttenberg, Tom Selleck, and Ted Danson.
The cast is a quartet of Balagan regulars: Ashley Bagwell and Curtis Eastwood, who head up the company's late- and off-night programming efforts; the fabulous Ray Tagavilla; and the hilarious Megan Ahiers.

Bagwell plays the CEO of a toy company, worried for his job on Christmas Eve because an ill-conceived marketing ploy has led to a sizable shortfall in the firm's books. Eastwood is the corporate attorney, whose answer to every problem is booze and strippers. Tagavilla is the newbie from sales who they bring in to try to fix the books. The character is Jewish, so doesn't mind working on Christmas Eve; he lives with his mother and has questionable social skills and some decidedly odd quirks.

Santa Claus (Ahiers) leaves the baby Jesus to this trio's office on the big night, with the task of protecting the savior from the forces of evil while she is out prowling chimneys. Ahiers also portrays a couple of those forces: the corporation's board chair who has the goods to soothe the child, but who also swings between promoting and sacking the lot of them; and a surprise super-demon that is one of the funniest and fowl-est villans yet seen on stage.

The three wise guys are skeptical of the baby's divinity, but are later convinced largely through Smith's interesting interpretation of the Eucharist. But let's face it: bodily functions are what infants are all about. Even so, they find it hard to resist making the kid the center of the ad campaign to save the foundering company. Even though Santa suffers a horrible demise, the show has a decidedly uplifting ending. This fun and funny play is a great alternative to sappy holiday theater fare.

Three Men and a Baby Jesus plays this weekend and next at the Erickson Theatre Off Broadway. Shows are at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are $10 (though anyone with an Internet connection has probably heard of the password to get in for half price. If you haven't, the box office is always willing to offer hints.)

Check it out!

Full disclosure: Your author is a board member of Balagan Theatre, but it doesn't mean I'm biased!

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