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Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011

Carte Blanche Studios Searches for Santa's Killer

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Neil Haven's yuletide whodunit Who Killed Santa? returned to Carte Blanche Studios with a familiar cast and those ever-charming Dan Katula-created puppets in the likenesses of beloved Christmas icons.

Santa Claus (Bo Johnson) has invited a number of Christmas friends over to his house for a party. This is Johnson's third time playing the rather seedy Santa (the rest of the cast largely consists of actors in their second or third year in the show as well). Nate Press is as charming as ever as the lovable, dimwitted Frosty the Snowman. Amy Geyser puts in another sympathetic performance as Tiny Tim. Rick Pendzich is classy and hip in the role of the Little Drummer Boy all grown up, and Liz Shipe is sweetly soulful as the Little Drummer Girl.

The returning cast members are extremely familiar with their puppets. In the case of less physically expressive puppets like Frosty, that means a refined sense of characterization. For the more expressive among them, like Tiny Tim and the Drummer Boy, that means a wide range of vivid moods and emotions.

Cast newcomer Alison Mary Forbes takes the role of tipsy party animal Rudolph. Forbes' dynamic comic instincts serve Rudolph well. She manages clever expressiveness with the head and hooves, giving the character a unique personality that's fun to watch. Forbes' performance alone makes this year's show worth another trip to the theater.

Who Killed Santa?
runs through Dec. 30 at the Carte Blanche Studio Theatre, 1024 S. Fifth St. For ticket reservations, visit BrownPaperTickets.com.