Bluebarn Theatre has opened its doors to a raucous holiday trip. True, this is a previously owned vehicle, but the new mileage gotten out of must be called a gas. Little Nelly’s Naughty Noël is a 2002 original by Omaha’s Timothy Siragusa and Jill Anderson, revisited with Susan C. Toberer and Anderson as the driving forces behind it.
Ten knock-out performers take on 27 roles and in about 70 minutes in a dazzling array of costumes and interpretations prove their mettle and their merit delivering far-out lines in non-stop permutations of a plot that’s thicker than dirt and twice as earthy. Whew. Just saying so could make one breathless.
Christmas time dawns at the Stromberg farm in the little house on Nebraska prairie. Everybody’s hoping and praying for gifts, but, to get them, all sorts of complications arise. Little Nelly’s got a bad cough and her father, while lamenting his manhood’s shortcomings, will venture out into the territory to find a solution to the problem. Bastard son Experience went to the barn to be with his beloved lamb and got too attached. Local railroad Baron Clitus Bedlam and his sons Pepper and Trace aim to take over the farm while a couple of Indians , Lance and Little Basket, hang around just to have a smokin’ good time. Oh. “Indians.” Sorry about that. Not from the Asian sub-continent, but those people living in the Americas mistakenly called “Indians” by ignorant Europeans who didn’t know geography from a hole in the ground. After exploiting the residents, to be more accurate they acknowledged their error and called them "Native Americans". But pioneers similar to the Strombergs didn’t care about those niceties. More of the plot(not the land kind) there’s a visit to Wei Hung Lo’s Poppy Palace for a floor show with dancing hos (not the farm implements). And Reverend O’Herliheelihoolihalihan’s sermon flows ecstatically with Chastity Stromberg giving a hand and egging him on.
Amid all this, find yourself breathless in awe at the songs and dances, even if the performers make it look easy. And, as for the multiple swift-changes of Wesley Pourier’s costume choices and the wiggy hair-styles by Lexi Lanka, how all that got accomplished without CGI suggests even more breathlessness backstage.
Playwright Timothy Siragusa’s other credits include Complacency Kills, a flipbook with barcode artist Scott Blake. That story is one of many in a collection about Omaha called 36 Views of O. He was nominated for a 2014 TAG Award for his one-act A Short Course on the Creation of Live Art Actions and is a resident artist at this city’s Hot Shops Art Center. He’s also a featured artist next year in The Brooklyn Art Library’s The Sketchbook Project. https://www.facebook.com/tim.siragusa.5
The songs are by Jill Anderson. She’s been a professional musician and actor with gigs in Chicago, New York and lots of regional venues elsewhere. Jill recorded four CDs of Irish music and worked with, among others, the New York Festival of Song, the Orlando Philharmonic and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Oh, by the way, she didn’t write the familiar “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” which turns up in this show, gaily tripped to a fare-thee well by the Ice Fairies. Nutcracking Pete Tchaikovsky wrote the melody. Re Jill: http://www.redchairrecords.com. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyotr_Ilyich_Tchaikovsky
Parents of innocent children (assuming such kids exist these days) should be advised that the “Naughty” of the title certainly applies. Fortunately no animals were harmed in this production.
FYI: Lots of seats in this treat are already booked, snagged, grabbed.
Little Nelly’s Naughty Noël rollicks through Dec.20 at Blue Barn Theatre, 1106 South 10th St. Thurs.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13, &20: 6 p.m., Weds. Dec. 16: 7:30 p.m., Sun. Dec.20:2 p.m., Sat. Dec. 12 & 19: 10 p.m. Many are sold out. Tickets: $25-$30. www.bluebarn.org