By Eliza Een and Alayna Een, Front Row Reviewers
Back again for its third year, A Krampus Karol is laying in wait for all of the naughty and nice audiences looking for some fresh holiday cheer in Spanish Fork, Utah. This original musical by Stephen Gashler and Teresa Gashler (also directors) borrows from the German legend of Krampus, which tells of a part-man, part-goat monster who punishes naughty children and drags them down to hell as Christmas’s antithesis to Santa Claus. The story begins with eight naughty children whose parents go on a skiing retreat, leaving the kids in the care of Frau Schmidt at an alpine cabin. In a style reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the children mysteriously disappear one by one—but not before proclaiming their particular vice in a catchy solo. When there are only three children left, Krampus reveals himself and faces off with his foil, Old Saint Nick himself. Will the remaining children be able to rescue their friends from their hellish torments and band together to beat Krampus once and for all, or will this Christmas demon finally have his day? You’ll have to see Krampus Karol to find out. This unique dark comedy stands apart with its sing-along elements, seasonal critiques, and candy-cane twists that older kids and adults alike will enjoy.
Introduced to the audience and children as Frau Schmidt, you may correctly guess that there’s more to Garion Jorgensen than meets the eye. Jorgensen shows a range with his acting and his falsetto that is both hilarious and astounding. He gives the role all he’s got and really takes the goat by the horns—in more ways than one.
Eli Boyden plays George, a greedy young boy used to the best that his parents can buy. Boyden grabs the audience’s attention throughout the show with his dedicated performance and hilarious improvs. His energy and mannerisms reminded me of Timothee Chalamet in Little Women, which is most certainly a good thing. It’s rare that a performance can get a crowd to cheer for “Nothing,” but that’s exactly what happens after Sasha’s solo song. Isabel Op’t Hof (Sasha) is likeably languid and less interested in the cottage chaos than she is in a nice long nap. Playing the fiery Rose is Lori-ann Cunningham, an exceptionally angry young lady who isn’t afraid of making her feelings known. Cunningham is comfortable and competent in the spotlight.
Stephen Gashler (Giovanni/Santa Claus) contributes to a lion’s share of the play’s comedy, first as gluttonous Giovanni with an insatiable and undiscerning hunger that kicks off some of the mischief in the house and then as the smaller-than-life Santa Claus who turns out to be a tainted saint. He excels in both roles. Proud Paulette (Teresa Gashler) is perfectly confident that her way is the best, and her performance in both her singing and acting parts is something she can be, well, proud of. Sophie Rose is the lovely, lusty Lou—a boy-crazy girl who finds it hard to focus on anything other than cooties, kissing, and conquests. Rose keeps her performance playful and family friendly.
Edna (Marissa Haines) is, I’m sure, terribly envious of everyone discussed previously in this review, though her performance was just as strong. Haines can hold her own against the other children, her nanny, and even Santa Claus when she gets started, and anyone buying her presents this year should be warned that socks are completely off-limits. The final child is good-hearted Günter (Keegan Briggs), who tries to balance out his cohort’s wrongdoings. But despite his good example, each child falls victim to the traps constructed by their own hubris. Along the way, Briggs shares his hopeful innocence that endears him to the audience, believing that despite what he sees, “Everything’s Gonna Be Fine” by the end.
The mildly macabre storyline is enlivened by ad lib moments, fourth wall fractures, and frequent full-cast musical and dance numbers choreographed by Teresa Gashler, Stephen Gashler, and Heather Peavler, with fight scenes by Darin Erickson. In the final scene, Gunter helps us all realize that we have some work to do and the show ends with one of my favorite songs, “A Krampus Karol,” which will have audiences singing through the chorus and the rest of the way home. A Krampus Karol from Great Hall Theatrical blends spooky and Christmassy vibes and becomes a theatrical favorite in the same way that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a cult classic. So come celebrate Christmas like you never have before with Krampus himself in Spanish Fork, Utah.
Great Hall Theatrical Presents A Krampus Karol
Angelus Theater, 164 N Main St, Spanish Fork, UT 84660
Dec 11–23, 2023, 7:30 PM. See site for individual performance details.
Tickets: $18 ; https://greathall.live/krampus/tickets
A Krampus Karol Facebook Event