Doug Carter, Desert Star Playhouse
Kerstin Davis, left, Spencer Ashby and Paul Thomas Murphy.
GINGGRINCH, A PARODY, OR HOW NEWT GING-GRINCH SAVED CHRISTMAS, Desert Star Playhouse, Murray, through Jan. 5 (266-2600 or www.desertstar.biz), running time: two hours (two intermissions)

MURRAY — Utah County seems to provide fertile territory for Desert Star Playhouse's homegrown humor. And the trend continues with "GingGrinch, a Parody," an all-new Christmas spoof adapted from a script by managing director Ben E. Millet.

The show gives one of Dr. Seuss' holiday characters a political spin with quite a bit of local, topical asides, as an out-of-control, over-the-edge politician, Newt GingGrinch, terrorizes folks in several Utah canyon towns just before Christmas.

Most of the action revolves around one Whoville family: Clarabell Where, a single mother with three adopted children, Cindy Lou Who, tomboyish Sam What and Becky Sue When. (Clarabell has allowed the children to keep their original names because she favors diversity.)

This sets the stage for a "Who's on First?"-inspired routine involving Who, What, Where, When and Why.

Clarabell is being pursued by Mayor Rudy Wholiani, but the man she hankers for is kilt-wearing Scottish hunter Hyrum Y (get it? "why"?). He lives in nearby Y-ville, aka east Provo.

Like most Desert Star productions, this follows a solid formula — catchy new lyrics to mostly familiar tunes, loopy characters and a melodramatic villain-vs.-hero plot. The opening weekend performance reviewed featured actors from both of the double-cast ensembles.

Paul Thomas Murphy is hilariously villainous as green-faced Newt GingGrinch, with Ricky T. Steadman contributing his own energetic brand of humor as Newt's sidekick dog, Kenny. Spencer Ashby commands the stage as the politically ambitious Rudy Wholiani and Dan Larrinaga is bold and heroic as Hyrum Y. Bonnie Whitlock easily fills a tall order as motherly Clarabell, with Kerstin Davis, Liz Christensen and Ashley Mayfield as Cindy, Sam and Becky, the highly diverse siblings.

Accompanied by Alex Marshall, the cast races from one predicament to another, including a run-in with the Abominable Snowman.

It's also been quite a while since a Desert Star cast has had an even number of men and women — four of each this time around, which made the choreography and staging of the "Christmas Card Olio" segment work out nicely. The big highlight of the latter is "The 12 Things of Christmas That Are Such a Pain to Me," including putting up the lights, finding a tree, finding a parking spot, sending out cards and being inundated by bills.

The vaudeville-style olio includes some really bad jokes, offset by a jovial sing-along and a visit from St. Nick.


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