In one night, you’ll get the gamut of Christmas with a story about the birth of Christ and a story about jolly old St. Nick in the Circle Theater’s productions of Waiting for Gordy and Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!
The night opens with Doug Marr’s brief one act play, Waiting for Gordy. This is a very sentimental, sweet, holiday take on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Two men, Earl and Vic, have been waiting on the steps several times a week for 4 weeks waiting for Gordy to come and tell them when it’s time to leave. During their conversation, a star appears and we get a modern take on the birth of the Savior.
As Earl, David Sindelar gives a remarkable, beautifully underplayed performance. With a serene, confident delivery, Sindelar’s Earl exudes a warm assurance that Gordy will, in fact, come. He is quite clearly the rock in his friendship with Vic, gently persuading him to wait with him for the mysterious Gordy.
Matt Allen’s Vic provides a fine foil to Sindelar’s solid Earl. Far more animated, sensitive, and a tad scatterbrained, Allen’s Vic comes off as very childlike. He’s impatient, forgets what they’re waiting for, and takes offense at perceived slights. Yet that slightly vinegary interpretation provides a needed dynamic with Sindelar’s sweetness.
Combined, these 2 characters are the everyman. The faith and the doubt. And the work of these 2 fine actors made for one of the most moving stories I’ve seen in many a moon. The play may seem static as neither actor moves much, but that is absolutely critical for this tale as it’s truly about what they say and not what they do.
From there, it was on to the featured play, Bang! Zoom! To the Moon! written by David Sindelar.
In this story, it’s Christmastime again, and Santa is getting ready to deliver presents. However, when his GPS system is broken by a klutzy elf, Santa ends up on the moon where he is held captive by the Moonians who are upset that their Christmas wishes have long been ignored. It takes the help of Santa’s witchy (literally) wife, daughter, elves, and inventor to save Father Christmas and preserve Christmas for Earth.
Sindelar’s script is full of zingy one liners and is a cohesive, well planned story with some amusing bits. One of the more entertaining moments is that the moon is so barren that the Moonians don’t even have a proper cell to hold Santa. They have a cell door which they force Santa to carry around which provides for some good, physical comedy.
Real life mother and daughter, Stephanie Anderson and Stella Ehrhart, play the Moonians, Difray and Angon. Anderson, in particular, is a hoot with alien, staccato speech patterns, robotlike movements, and a monotone laugh. Yet, she also is able to mine the role for some sympathy with her sad tale about Santa never granting any of her Christmas wishes. Ehrhart manages to match her mother for delivery and humor, especially with her attempts at trying to hijack this tale with a telling of Zippy, the Christmas Narwahl, though at times she slips out of her Moonian accent and does not cheat out enough to the audience.
Sarah Ervin nearly steals the show as Oopzit. Oopzit means well, but she is an unintentional force of nature that breaks everything she touches and constantly injures herself. Displaying an excellent sense of timing and physicality, Ervin is an absolute scream as the klutzy elf as she politely swears (Cheese and rice!!) and flops around the stage. Adding to the realism of this character is the fact that Oopzit is noticeably more banged up each time she appears on stage.
Dylan Marr gives an exceptional performance as Quinn, Santa’s absent-minded genius inventor. With good use of voice and body language, Marr’s Quinn has genius and uncertainty all rolled into one and makes for some delightful moments.
Laura Marr and Matt Allen play Weeble, Santa’s chief elf, and Gunar, Santa’s inept #2 and reindeer wrangler. Laura’s Weeble is tough as nails and always ready to take charge. Her inability to call a GPS by its proper initials is the best running gag in the show. Allen’s Gunar is a lisping, cowardly buffoon, though he does have toughness when the chips are down. Allen’s performance needed to be reined in as he was a bit too over the top for the show and his awkward gestures and poses often distracted from the show.
Another real life mother and daughter team, Christa and Katya Reason, played Santa’s wife, Driselda, and his daughter, Lisbeth. These two are witches and Driselda handles the magic side of Santa’s operation while Lisbeth just wants to learn more spells from her mom who is too busy to teach her. Christa Reason’s Driselda is a bit ill tempered, easily frustrated, and slightly arrogant. But underneath beats a heart of gold and a person who can admit her mistakes. Katya Reason’s performance as Lisbeth is a little rough around the edges. She needs to be a bit more animated and broke character on a few occasions, but still had a nice, bratty charm.
As Santa, David Sindelar plays the straight man of this group of loons and does it very well. Santa is clearly the boss of the operation as proven when he orders a mandatory Hawaiian casual week when the others at Santa’s Workshop laugh at the only garments he has left after Oopzit destroyed his wardrobe. But being the kind soul that he is, Sindelar also shows a warm heart and loving nature with this character as he listens to the plight of the Moonians and vows to do better by them.
Waiting for Gordy and Bang! Zoom! To the Moon! runs through December 21 at the Circle Theatre. The show begins at 8pm with an optional dinner starting at 7pm. Performance days are Thurs-Sat with one matinee performance at 2pm (lunch at 1pm) on December 15. Ticket prices are $25 for dinner and show for adults, $23 for seniors, $20 for students, and $16 for children. For just the show, prices are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $8 for children, and $10 for active military and TAG members. Reservations can be made at 402-553-4715. The Circle Theater is located at 726 S 55th St, Omaha, NE 68106 in the basement of Central Presbyterian Church.