By Jenn McKee
Watching “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some),” now playing at Tipping Point Theatre, is like getting a nice pair of socks as a gift. At first, you’re not particularly wowed. But when you give them a try, you find they’re cute and cozy, and in the end, they generally win you over.
Mashing together loved/loathed Christmas stories from television and film, the show features three actors – Dave Davies, Michael Brian Ogden and Jeff Thomakos – in a physically demanding, wig-and-mustache swapping stream of comical, miniaturized narratives.
The initial joke is that Thomakos expects to perform – and launches into – “A Christmas Carol,” when Davies and Ogden intervene, convincing him to do something different, something broader; to this end, they enlist suggestions for various Christmas traditions from the audience.
The bit is misleading, since it suggests that these contributions will all be worked into the show, when that’s not the case. Clearly, “Christmas” scriptwriters Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez are counting on the audience providing some obvious candidates and simply forgetting about the rest.
Yet as a general rule, the show’s funniest moments stem from its unscripted moments – when someone’s pulled from the crowd to participate in a scene, or, as happened on opening night, Davies says something random like, “Your wrist smells weird” during a tense scene with Thomakos.
Some localized humor about the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade also squarely hits the target, and the sight of Ogden as a float balloon, tied to action figure handlers, provides one of the night’s biggest laughs.
Matt Foss directs the show with a good sense of pacing and energy, and the highly talented ensemble knocks themselves out for laughs. Elizabeth Moore’s fun, economic costumes make the quick-but-suggestive changes work, and Dan Walker’s set and lighting design, as usual, works in fine harmony with the script’s twists and turns.
‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)’
Tipping Point Theatre, 361 E. Cady St., Northville. Thursday-Sunday (except Nov. 26) through Dec. 20. $18-$27. 248-347-0003. http://www.tippingpointtheatre.com