By Shantelle L. Argyle
The Ziegfeld Theater’s third annual holiday musical A Fairly Potter Christmas Carol is not your typical parody (of the internationally beloved Harry Potter series, if that isn’t obvious). Yes, it has silly jokes only true “Potterheads” will get. Yes, it has some campy original songs and bits borrowed from Broadway shows. It also has a lot of heart (three sizes too big, you might say) and an abundance of originality. Written by Rick Rea, the show combines holiday tropes like A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the mania of Harry Potter. The original songs are not only funny, but catchy and heartwarming. Some parodies are hit and miss with the comedy, but this show is consistently funny or touching throughout.
It was a particular treat to sit and listen to the audience reacting to the jokes. The house was packed, and the audience raucous. Some repeated jokes once or twice and chuckled all over again, which made the experience even more fun.
The story, which draws from multiple sources and features a HUGE cast, would probably be confusing in the hands of a different writer and director. Director Caleb Parry somehow managed to create fluidity and cohesiveness despite a cast of over 30 members (many of whom play multiple roles).
Rather than chaos, we get to laughingly follow “Jerry Potter” (Wyatt Welch), “Don Weaselchez” (Joshua S. Robinson), and “Herbrainery” (Kelsie Reynolds) as they try to stop “You-Know-Who” (Eb Madson) from ruining Christmas while dealing with Jerry’s mommy/daddy issues and his dislike for Father Christmas. Welch has an angelic voice and fantastic comedic timing, and is every kid’s vision of what “Jerry Potter” should look like. Reynolds has a powerhouse voice that could easily upstage everyone in the cast, but didn’t, and her chemistry with her love-interest Robinson was undeniable. Robinson is affable and lovable as Don.
The faculty of “Horsechops” provides a healthy portion of the campy silliness in this show. “Bumblebore” (Andrew J. Cole) runs the school like a late-show monologue. He’s hilarious and some of his improvisations made even his castmates crack up. Professors “Alan Rickman” (Tyson Allred), “Meowgonagall” (Becca Schull), “Trelibra” (Kate Konchar), and “Bagrid” (Timothy Behunin) are each given their own schtick to play with and in turn get their own moments to steal the show.
The villains in the show are perhaps the most enjoyable. Jerry Potter wouldn’t be who he is without his nemesis “You-Know-Who”, played by Eb Madson. Madson is probably best known for his roles in Saturday’s Voyeur, where much like in this production, his energy and presence overtake everything in the best possible way. Despite his self-deprecating jokes about his height, there was nothing small about his performance. His singing voice positively fills the room, and his villainous laugh forces you to laugh along – and feel guilty rooting for the bad guy. Madson truly shows his acting chops when he meets a young sick girl in the hospital and they share a song. It brought me to tears, and the audience to absolute silence.
Young “Drake O’Malfoy” played by PK Dallimore positively stole the show while she was onstage. Despite the early scenes containing all 30+ cast members, she stood out with her physical humor and sass. After the magical aging process, “Drake O’Malfoy” is played by Bryan Andrews. Andrews is charming and fabulous, showing a sweet vulnerability. I want him to be my BFF. His squad “Blake” and “Jake” (Mejai Perry) and (Pamela Jensik) make you want to sit at the (evil) cool-kids table.
This production is large, and the talent behind it very obvious. The magical sets were designed by Parry, costumes designed by Dee Tua’one, and choreography by Joshua S. Robinson. Music direction was done by Kyle Lawrence and sound design by Eliza Haynie.
If you’re trying to forget about Aunt Ethel’s fruitcake, or maybe just sick of the same-old holiday shows we see every year, apparate over to A Fairly Potter Christmas Carol. Even a dementor would laugh with glee! A Fairly Potter Christmas Carol runs approximately 95 minutes, including intermission. The children in the audience clearly enjoyed it, and it was a family-friendly script. One could easily make this show an annual family tradition.
The Ziegfeld Theater presents A Fairly Potter Christmas Carol, An original musical parody, Music, Lyrics and Book by Rick Rea
The Ziegfeld Theatre, 3934 S. Washington Blvd, Ogden, UT 84403
December 1 through 23 7:30 PM
855-ZIG-ARTS / 855-944-2787
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A Fairly Potter Christmas Carol Facebook Event