Regional Reviews: Seattle
A Big Yes, Yes to No, No, Noel
Conceived by co-star Marcus Wolland, No, No, Noel takes us to the home of hyper holiday house party hostess Trudy Tannenbaum (Loretta Deranleau) as she foists her plans for this year's bash on her bemused buddies Fern (Angie Louise), Jacques (Charles Crowley) and Alden (Marcus Wolland). The show unwraps neatly into an insanely funny mélange of mostly non-cliché Christmas tunes, as Trudy and company consider the elements that will make her party a smash. The show, a tight 75 minutes (plus intermission) showcases all four cast members admirably, and their interactions are broad enough, yet grounded enough to remind us all of similar situations we have gone through with high maintenance friends.
The opening number, "Tell Her No," sets the tone as Trudy's trio of pals are determined not to let her mania for merriment ruin their holidays, but alas, Trudy is just a girl to whom no can't be said. As the tenacious Trudy, Loretta Deranleau couldn't be more perfectly utilized, bringing a sense of bombastic comedy to her playing of the biggest Pollyanna wannabe since Michele Lee's Karen on the venerable soap "Knots Landing." Vocally, Deranleau is outstanding in all the quartet numbers, her "Going On A Date with Santa" being a loopy delight, and she also scores with a well nigh perfect impression of Karen Carpenter on "Merry Christmas, Darling." As Fern, Angie Louise brings her well-honed timing and delivery into play as the friend who seems to get asked to the Christmas party because she can also play the piano. A particularly lovely moment by Louise comes in a Christmas memories section, where she delivers "Spirograph," a great character comedy number by Seattle musical theatre whiz Scot (Das Barbecu) Warrender. Charles Crowley as Jacques slides successfully between the satirical "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" and the sentimental Victor Hebert treasure "Toyland." Marcus Wolland (Alden) takes the prize as the performer most at ease on the stage, going from a memory of being a wide-eyed kid who has a fright on Xmas Eve ("Zat You Santa Claus?") to a warm rendering of a lovely, neglected Christmas song originally penned for Bing Crosby by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen ("The Secret of Christmas").
Possibly the high points of the evening is a "Christmas Travelogue" segment which ranges from Trudy's sincere French carol "Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant," to Jacques' somber German solo "Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen," to Fern's deliciously politically incorrect "Donde Estes Santa Claus?," to Alden's generic "A Merry, Merry Christmas to You." There is also a festive salute to holiday cartoon specials, and a song that immortalizes one of the great holiday horrors, "Grandma's Killer Fruitcake."
All in all, this is the kind of genial, tuneful and goofy holiday offering that Crepe de Paris audiences crave, between bites of French cuisine. With No, No, Noel running in tandem with the Friday/Saturday night charmer There's Always One More Song to Sing, it is safe to say that the Crepe de Paris is a great place to stop off for dinner, drinks, dessert and a show, after battling the downtown hopping wars.
No, No, Noel, runs Tuesday-Thursday and most Sunday nights through December 30 at 8 p.m. (dinner seating from 6 p.m.) at The Crepe de Paris in Rainier Square 1333 5th Ave., downtown Seattle. For reservations call (206) 623-4111.
- David-Edward Hughes