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Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

Scott Walker, Mrs. Claus Among Jabs in 'Holiday Punch'

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With its seemingly random collection of songs and music, Off the Wall Theatre's Holiday Punch is an opportunity to see stray bits of entertainment brought to the stage by Off the Wall's familiar talent. Though there's quite a lot of bad comedy in the 2011 version of Holiday Punch, the show never fails to be entertaining on some level. Cast members play comically exaggerated versions of their own personalities in a rich ensemble atmosphere.

The best material in this year's show involves skewed glances at current events. In addition to exploring physical comedy in a Spider-Man costume, Liz Mistele joins the other female cast members in a fiercely clever (and oddly sensual) political-comedy song-and-dance medley performed in burkas. The standout performance has to be David Flores singing a deeply funny, Kurt Weill-inspired song from the perspective of Santa Claus' wife. The show ends with a brief parody of Camelot cast as a musical about Madison, with Jeremy C. Welter playing Scott Walker. Welter is really sharp here: It's subtle, but not only does he manage a really good approximation of Walker's thick, affectless, glazed-over, dimwitted presence, but he also manages to make it work musically.

Off the Wall Theatre's Holiday Punch runs through Dec. 31. For ticket reservations, call 414-327-3552.