The Magnetic Theatre’s much anticipated annual holiday show, The 38th Annual Bernstein Family Christmas Spectacular, returns in its — despite what the title would have you believe — sixth incarnation. The ever-evolving play continues its tradition of raunchy humor, inebriated characters and family dysfunction at its finest.
Long ago the Bernsteins converted to Judaism, then decided to celebrate Christmas anyway for the purpose of financial gain. “The thematic feel is of a ’50s era variety show,” says Chall Gray, founding producing director of The Magnetic Theatre. “There are original songs, skits and dance numbers.” This year, Tracey Johnston-Crum (who has been voted Best Actress in WNC three years running in Xpress’ reader poll) hosts.
Although The Magnetic Theatre is gearing up to move into its new location in 2015, this final show of the season will be staged at the Bebe Theater. There, audiences can get intimate with the Bernsteins in a way they never have before. “The front row is definitely for the most adventurous,” Gray says. “I imagine people leaving after the show feeling like they got more than their money’s worth.”
In March, the writing team of Katie Anne Towner, Lisa Yoffee, Lucia Del Vecchio, Genevieve Packer, Peter Lundblad, Jim Julien, Justin Evans and Steven Samuels started brainstorming ideas, allowing plenty of time to develop the latest installment in the Bernsteins’ crazy saga. “We rewrite the show every year,” Gray says. “This year we only kept one or two songs, so 90 percent is all-new material.”
If previous productions are any indication, the comedy will be irreverent and off the wall — it is suggested for mature audiences only. “We gave birth to the baby Jesus last year,” Gray says. “Hopefully baby Jesus will be back, if we’re good.” This year, audiences can anticipate a tap-dancing reindeer and a special celebrity sighting. Rumor has it there could be a brand-new family member.
“I love A Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street as much as the next guy,” Gray says. “But the holidays can be a grim spectacle, and you need an escape that appeals to adults.”
WHAT: The 38th Annual Bernstein Family Christmas Spectacular
WHERE: The Bebe Theatre
WHEN: Thursday-Saturday, December 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20, at 7:30 nightly, with a late show Fridays and Saturdays, 10 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 for Dec. 4 preview show/$20 early shows/$18 late shows. Prices are $2 more at the door. themagnetictheatre.org