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One Last Punch From Off the Wall’s ‘Holiday Punch’

Dec. 19, 2016
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Holiday Punch

In Off the Wall Theatre’s holiday variety musical comedy show, Dale Gutzman and company once again present comic sketches and spoofs of seasonal songs. This year’s show is billed as The Last Holiday Punch and the long-running series is limping and gasping to a well-deserved end. An old musical spoof-laden comedy aesthetic is dragged through Off the Wall’s stage once more, complete with topical comedy (already dated from a couple of weeks ago) gift wrapped in lazy comic stereotypes. 

The series always prided itself on being playfully offensive, which would be fine if there was some clever satire at the center of it all. There isn’t. Surprisingly, however, the show isn’t bad enough to be anything other than reasonably pleasant.

There is some genuine sentiment that peaks through the wreckage often enough to keep the show enjoyable one last time. Holiday Punch finds its best moments when members of the ensemble are allowed to shine in a way that elevates beyond the show as a whole. In one of the best sketches, a spoof of A Chorus Line, the cast play elves auditioning to work for Santa. Zoe Schwartz warms the sketch with comic presence. Maura Atwood delivers some heartfelt musical theater emotion to the show. David Flores’ reliably multi-faceted talent anchors the ensemble. 

The most honest tinges of emotion seem to almost come from Gutzman himself in a few sparse moments alone onstage as the decades’ long series comes to an end. 

Through Dec. 31 at Off the Wall Theatre, 127 E. Wells St. For tickets, call 414-484-8874.

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