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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Ham for the Holidays: Wham Bam, Thank You Ham!
at Theatre Off Jackson

Also see David's reviews of A Christmas Story and Holiday Glee

Ham For the Holidays
Lisa Koch, DJ Gommels, Peggy Platt and
Michael Oaks

As yummy (and predictable) as the annual Christmas feast at your Grandma's, gay-friendly comic duo Peggy Platt and Lisa Koch, joined by actor Michael Oaks and actor/pianist D. J. Gommels, cook up a 10th annual edition of their Ham for the Holidays sketch and song show. Though a few of the sketch formats are wearing thin, and more songs would be welcome, lesbian actress singer Koch and standup legend Platt are always a joy to watch in action, and at their best they are the funniest pair in town, well directed by David Koch (Lisa's cabaret theatre veteran brother).

Highlights this year are a "Glee" send-up in which the characters from the TV sensation cross over into George Romero territory, in the on-target Night of the Living Glee. The cast of four do a commendably kooky skewering of the show, with many quick costumer/wig changes for the cast of four as they take on at least eight characters from the Fox TV series (Koch is dead-on as Sue Sylvester). And the sure-fire Spudds family sketches (Peggy and Lisa as a faux version of that once popular mother/daughter duo, the Judds) is the longest and most hilarious section of the show, as Momma Euomi Spudd (think of her as the love child of Lucy Ricardo and Carol Burnett's Eunice) contrive to stage a historical epic Spuddacus which runs off track when Euomi casts herself as Spuddacus' love interest, that Queen of de Nile, Cleopatra, to daughter Wynotta's consternation. Just holding your own when the pair go to town as these delicious characters are in action is a tough assignment, but the wacky and droll Oaks and Gommels capture plenty of their own chuckles.

Mildly amusing is a game show/audience participation spoof in which Paul McCartney (Koch), RuPaul (a glam-drag Oaks), Paula Abdul (sketch-stealing Platt), and politico Rand Paul (Gommels) are the victims of contestants who are there to Deck the Paul. Koch and Platt surpass their material vastly in a silly sketch about an eco-friendly pair's promotion of a dung-powered auto. And, though the foursome rev up a heap of comic energy, it is perhaps time to retire the annual Sequim Men's Chorus spoof of LGBT choruses, which features a chorus of three and their cantankerous choir master. Maybe next year's Ham could be an all Spudds affair instead, a la one of the old TV network variety show "family" Christmas episodes. Speaking of which, a scene change gem of a moment occurs with an extended vintage Sonny & Cher holiday special with the by then divorced Bonos, their daughter Chastity (now son Chaz), Cher's son Elijah Blue (by Gregg Allman) crying his eyes out as Mama serenades him, and guests Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo!  Oh, those were the days.

Ham for the Holidays: Wham Bam, Thank You Ham! runs through December 24 at Theatre Off Jackson 409 7th Ave S in the downtown International district. For tickets go to www.brownpapertickets.com.


Photo: Heather Trimm

See the list of this season's theatre offerings in the Seattle area.



- David Edward Hughes



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