OREM — Holiday Night Live is a Saturday Night Live-style, holiday-themed sketch comedy show written and performed by some of the UVU’s funniest students. It features musical numbers, dance breaks, videos, and audience interaction. This year marks the tenth (yay!) and final (aww) production of HNL at UVU. And what a way to end a tradition!
The program did not list the titles or authors of any of the sketches, so I have invented titles, and I assume that all sketches were written by Vincent Van Gogh because his face is on the poster. It was hard to narrow it down, but my favorite sketches included the delightfully macabre “Meet the Jenson-Smith-Williamses,” a Christmas special from the second-best family musical act on local cable; “MILF on the Shelf,” a commercial for the new holiday tradition that will help women keep their husbands in line (don’t worry, ladies, the no-touching rule still applies); and “Let It Rip,” an interpretive dance about flatulence after Thanksgiving dinner (stunning choreography by Nkechi Erika Ovuoba). I laughed myself silly through “The Jimmy Stewart Singers”* and “The Caroling Carol,” and through the first half of the “Girls Only!” sketch.
From Toria Truax’s entitled eight-year-old to Cleveland McKay Nicoll’s Chip, to Ovuoba’s Black Sarah Mclachlan, each of the 14 ensemble members was given a chance to shine. Andrew Robertson was an enthusiastic host who warmed the audience up nicely with “Christmas This Year.” McKelle Lindsey Shaw, Amber Dodge, Makenna Tinney, and Marshall Madsen killed it in “Meet the Jenson-Smith-Williamses.” And on and on. Individually, each actor had great comedic timing, but as a whole they were tight, quick, and vibrant. Accompanied by the immensely talented Jason Fullmer (guitar), Dave Tinney (piano), and Karl Dodge (drums), the cast’s was infectious, and I never wanted the show to end.
However, no production is without fault. The show got off to a rough start with the uninspired cold open, “Trump’s Wonderful Life.” As you might have guessed, Donald Trump decided he’d had enough of the politics game and wished he had never been born. Cue Oprah, his guardian angel, who told him that if he had never been born, New York City would have become New New Mexico, and his wives never would have had enough plastic surgery to keep them from looking like eastern European immigrants, etc., etc. While I appreciate the relevant subject matter, this sketch had enough meat in it to be funny. Trump’s neon-orange troll-hair combover was hilarious, but the sketch was too short, there was very little movement, and none of the jokes were surprising.
There were also minor technical issues with the sound, lights, and videos that made parts of the show feel underrehearsed, and I thought the lighting (designed by Lawson Bendall) could have been more of a whimsical-Christmas-explosion to match the Santa’s-workshop-on-steroids set (designed by Madeline Ashton) and the boundless energy of the actors.
Still and all, this year’s show (co-directed by Rob Moffat and Dave Tinney) was clever, exciting, and just so much fun to watch. HNL has been a wonderful tradition, and I’m sad to see it go. If you get the chance to snag some tickets for the final final performance, enjoy it while it lasts. This show has been advertised as PG-13. Some of the subject matter is rather *ahem* adult, but it’s all in good taste.