This year Santa Claus is retiring. Microphone substituted for candy cane, the announcement came moments into the show. So the question remained: Who will be the next Santa?
On Dec. 10, in the warmth of Roone Arledge Auditorium, XMAS!13 took to the stage for its 2018 production, “The XMAS! Factor.” In the ever ridiculous spirit of XMAS! performances, the plot, written by Jake Arlow, BC ’19, and Louisa Melcher, CC ’20, followed contestants competing to become the next Santa Claus. The high-spirited nature of the show and witty banter made the production a joy to attend.
Among the competitors were Krampus, played by Rachel Greenfeld, BC ’19, Emmalena Scrooge, great grandchild of Ebenezer, played by Talmage Wise, GSAS ’19, and the bizarrely named Icelandic Yule lads, made up of Spoon-Licker, Doorway-Sniffer, and Meat-Hook (names that scream dirty innuendos but are just obscure enough to be in an XMAS! production), respectively played by Jonathan Kapilian, SEAS ’20, Dylan Dameron, CC ’20 and Ethan Woo, CC ’20.
While underdog Krampus may have been described by fellow contestants as a “cloven-hooved demon bitch,” there was no kramping Greenfeld’s style. With energy, pizzazz, and candid hilarity, the unexpected jolts and quirky visages of Greenfeld captivated from start to finish. When Krampus was delivered the unfortunate news that she had been unjustly cheated of a victory in the final stage of the competition, Greenfeld wriggled on her belly to the front of the stage, letting her body hang limply over the edge. This portrayal of Santa’s arch nemesis from hell was fiery to say the least.
The standout duo playing the part of conniving producers of “The XMAS! Factor,” Bruce and Shelly, Joel Meyers, CC ’21, and Genevieve Joers, CC ’20, delivered the evil corporate villains of the production with almost snow flaws.
Their Grinch-like quality particularly shone through in moments when the antiheroes would boast of the success of their schemes. Joers utilized her impressive Beyoncé-inspired dance moves to taunt, and, in tandem, Meyers would strut the stage adorned in Hugo Boss with one sinister eyebrow raised, voraciously leaping onto wooden boxes painted as Christmas gifts.
But wait—there’s myrrh. Jolly tunes, composed and orchestrated by Simon Broucke, CC ’19, were gleefully performed by a live orchestra. Furthermore, the lyrics for the musical, written by Phanesia Pharel, BC ’21, characterized the whimsicality of the production with titles such as “Overrated,” “Claus in our Claws”—referring not only to Bruce and Shelly’s ensnaring traps, but also Santa’s unfortunate overlooking of the fine print—and “Thin, Thin Ice.” The musical numbers embodied the sprightly style of the show and reflected the hours of hard work and dedication that go into creating an entire production from scratch.
Without an appropriate number of references to LitHum, however, “The XMAS! Factor” would not have sleighed as it did. One reference came after Emmalena Scrooge renounced his victory for the sake of the Christmas spirit, giving the plot a surprising twist, and handed the title over to Krampus, the “four-hoofed goat demon from the hot place downstairs.” Having unexpectedly become the new Santa, Krampus decidedly addressed her neighbor in the inferno, reminding Dante that it was far past his bedtime and he should not be watching television at this hour.
By the end of the performance, a new holiday had been formed: Krampus Day. For Christmas this year, the Lego toys will be hell-themed, Virgil will be helping families unwrap their presents, and Krampus will be getting her spotlight in the festive season. Vibrant, well-curated, and witty, XMAS!13 deserves a ho-ho-ho-mongous round of Santa-plause.