Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Twisted X-Mess: Dee Snider's Rock and Roll Christmas Tale Brings Holiday Cheer, but Not All Good -- Chicago Theater Review

Theater Review

Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale
A world premiere musical, written by Dee Snider
Broadway Playhouse, Chicago
Thru January 4, 2015

As I was watching Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale the other night I couldn't help think that--especially for those with rather limited time and resources for entertainment--the 90 minutes would probably be better devoted to any other work of quality or substance, whether a first-rate play (such as this one that I recently saw), top-notch musical, stellar jazz combo, strong symphony performance, funny comedian, even a good movie, book or television show.

Even in terms of hair metal and Christmas carols, which this Tale intertwines, one would likely be better off catching a decent cover band at a local club or a well-sung school holiday pageant.

Which isn't to imply that I was miserable seeing the real Dee and a cast of local actors and musicians who put forth a hardy effort in what I should qualify was officially a "preview performance" (that was part of my Broadway in Chicago subscription series for no known discount).

I have a soft spot for Twisted Sister, the band that Snider fronted, especially the hits "We're Not Gonna Take It"--whose video was one of the best of the 80s--and "I Wanna Rock," both which are performed in the show, albeit without Snider on vocals and with Christmas song mash-ups.

Photo not from an actual performance
I'm not adverse to cheesy fun and my friend Paolo and I were gleefully fist-pumping along to these tunes.

Even some of the non-Twisted Sister songs--seemingly Snider originals written for the show, as he is the only one credited--performed (or at least fake-performed; I wasn't sure) onstage by Daisy Cutter, the fictional band that the story revolves around, weren't bad in a head-banging sort of way.

I didn't enter the theater expecting Shakespeare, so to decry the tale of a decidedly unhip hair band selling its soul to either Satan or Santa (I won't ruin it for you) and along the way being "cursed" into playing Christmas songs at high volume, may seem petty and petulant.

But wherever one draws the line betwixt cheesy, campy and schlocky, Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale just wasn't so bad it was good. It was mainly just bad with a fair amount of good cheer.

It was fun seeing Snider as the narrator, though he was off-stage far more than he was on; given that he wrote the show and is appearing throughout the World Premiere run in Chicago, it felt like he should have done more within the show.

Adam Michaels was good as D.D., the lead singer of Daisy Cutter, although his part was written to be especially moronic.

Laughs in the wrong places also subverted what could have been a touchingly goofy romance between Ralph, the band's drummer (played by Wilem Tarris) and Suzette, an attractive club owner (Keely Vasquez), but both performers did the best they could.

So while I honestly didn't care much for this rock & roll Christmas tale, I mean no spite in panning it. 

Snider had a clever idea and curiosity alone should bring in fans throughout the holidays.

I have no reason not to hope it makes them merry; no Scrooge am I.

But there are a whole lot of better things to be seen, and heard, and the most joyous of holiday delights are likely not apt to be found under this Christmas Dee.

1 comment:

Linda Remensnyder said...

This is definitely not appropriate for anyone under the age of fourteen. Our family also were Season Ticket attendees and saw the performance prior to its review in the media. Dee Snider's copy on the Broadway in Chicago website, in the North Shore Magazine's Holdiay issue, and on a Chicago radio station mislead me, as host, to think it was an uplifting Christmas tale suitable for children. The matinee performance on 11/08 was 20% children with youngsters as young as three dressed in holiday finery--many accompanied by grandparents. This was a toxic performance for kids