WaterTower's Rockin' Christmas Party Deserves a Big Lump of Coal

If you remember flopping on the divan in your flannels and scuffies to watch TV Christmas specials starring Perry Como, the King Sisters and the Osmonds back in the day, you'll feel right at home at WaterTower Theatre's Rockin' Christmas Party. The show is a nostalgia-filled musical cheese ball, rolled in cheese with a bowl of cheese on the side. Seriously, they should hand everyone a box of Triscuits on the way in.

Austin theater director Dave Steakley created this musical wheel of limburger more than a decade ago and WaterTower's been doing it on and off at the holidays since then. The current cast includes a couple of performers who were in it the first time around. Poor things. It must feel like a recurring nightmare.

The silly concept for the thing is that each of six performers gets a shot at his or her own Christmas TV special. Gary Floyd croons through the traditional "chestnuts roasting" section. Denise Lee sings some disco, wearing fake hair that could swallow Donna Summer. Markus Lloyd, in a pimp hat, is awarded the soul/R&B special, so he sings the theme from Shaft and some James Brown numbers. Jenny Thurman and Sara Shelby-Martin do the country segment, including "Ode to Billy Joe" and "Harper Valley PTA," two songs we'd hoped disappeared with Y2K.

And what does any of this have to do with Christmas? Fudge all. We don't know. The singers sing well. And they manage to look happy and peppy while wearing costumes and wigs so hideous you wouldn't blame them for crying instead.

Yes, WaterTower et al deserve a big lump of coal for closing out the year this way. Make that a lump of cheese.

Rockin' Christmas Party continues through December 19 at WaterTower Theatre, Addison. Box office, 972-450-6232.

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