A Christmas Survival Guide at Revision Theatre
Read the heading for ReVision Theatre’s mission statement on their web site – “making the world better, one show at a time” – and you know this is a unique and ambitious group. Rather than relying on the ready-made popularity of well-trod favorites, this professional company, now going into its 5th season, aims to produce “invigorating theatre with a fresh perspective” and do this by presenting new works, putting on shows that have been overlooked by other companies, and giving a new spin to traditional productions. A perfect example of what the company does best is their current offering, “A Christmas Survival Guide”. “It takes a classic holiday songs and themes and presents them in a whole new way.” co-director Brett Colby told me. “If any show fits our mission, this is it”
When I asked Colby what appealed to him personally about the show, he was quick to say that the concept just sounded like fun. “It’s like ‘Forbidden Broadway’ (a cabaret style revue that spoofs Broadway tunes) for the holidays.”
“Let’s face it, ‘Scrooge’ has been done to death.” he continues, “and the economy is still not great. People want to laugh.”
One example is the show’s version of “12 Days of Christmas”, called “The Twelve Steps of Christmas”, with a line that goes, “on the first step of Christmas, my sponsor gave to me a session with his therapist, Ted”.
“There just aren’t that many funny Christmas shows”, Colby says. “This is never crass, and it has its share of touching moments. But it does keep you smiling.”
Colby is thrilled with the cast, made up of mostly local actors, with lots of theatre credits behind them and a multitude of talents to bring to this production.
Joe Ronga’s Santa “is a totally fresh take on the character” and Chuck Cutaia is a “perfect for the role of the narrator”. Julia Whary and Samantha Croce, are “two great ladies,” he says. Samantha, is a “very versatile singer and actress” and Julia, at 16, already has an album out. Anthony Anthony Preuster is a “terrific comedian”, and Spiro Markos is a “great singer, actor, and dancer”.
I told Colby that when I think of Asbury Park, what immediately comes to my mind is Bruce Springsteen and the Boardwalk. He laughed and admitted that most people have the same impression. But, he told me, there’s much more to this central Jersey shore community. Rock music is very popular, of course, but jazz is also huge in Asbury Park. “The House of Jazz (the venue for “A Survival Guide to Christmas”) is really a terrific club,” he says.
And, he explains, that there’s always been a great tradition of theatre in Asbury Park, back to the days of vaudeville.
“It’s a buzzing vibrant town”, he says, “with a very gritty, artsy community.”
And ReVision Theatre is a big part of that cultural community. As Colby told me – and as the company’s web site states – ReVision serves as a nurturing home for local artists and writers and produces readings, workshops, cabarets, concerts, in addition to fully staged productions.
So, I asked Colby, if ReVision could ask Santa to bring them ANYthing, what would it be? “A home,” he said, without a moment’s hesitation. “Bringing in equipment for each production is expensive and challenging,” he told me, “especially when the space is not designed to accommodate theatre.”
“Having our own building would make such a difference.” A Christmas Survival Guide runs through December 18.
Photo Caption: The cast of ReVision Theatre's "A Christmas Survival Guide" (l to r): Spiro Markos, Anthony Preuster, Samantha Croce, Julia Whary, Joe Ronga, and Chuck Cutaia.