I was more prepared to suffer through Misfit Boy’s debut production, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, than to actually enjoy it. After all, it was billed as a stage adaptation of the worst Christmas movie ever — a risky choice if ever I heard one. So I’m happy to report that the show is actually, against all odds, really, really funny.
It’s a silly funny, of course. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is originally a 1964 low-budget film in which a group of Martians kidnap Santa from Earth because their Martian children are sad. They kidnap two Earth children, Billy and Betty, along with Santa and take the whole group back to Mars on their spaceship. There’s one bad Martian who thinks Santa and the Earth children are corrupting the Martian children, and he spends much of the plot trying to get rid of Santa and the kids. This version has been adapted for the stage.
In the spirit of the film, Misfit Boy’s Martians are dressed in shiny green get-ups topped with bicycle helmets that have been spray-painted a glittery green and given pipe-cleaner antennae. The kicker is the pale green underwear — briefs, naturally — that all the Martian men wear over their outfits. The leader of the Martians, Kimar (David Erb), even wears a cape, which he swirls expertly as he strides across the stage. The costumes themselves are enough to inspire giggles, but the cast also knows how to make the most of them. There’s lots of standing with feet apart, hands on hips, and chests thrust forward. You’d have to be the grinchiest of grinches to keep from laughing at that.
To add to the ridiculousness, Mrs. Claus (Stephanie Merrell) is turned into a buxom lady who’s never seen without a martini in her hand, Santa (Mike Kordek) is a little bit of a smart-ass, and the mother Martian, Momar, is played by director David Moon, who gives his she-male character a snootiness straight out of the British aristocracy. In short, it’s an endless parade of absurdity that succeeds because the cast somehow keeps an utterly straight face throughout — even when Torg, a robot that’s just a guy wearing silver cardboard boxes on his body and head, comes out to terrorize the Earth children.
The set and props are appropriately low-budget-esque, with plenty of cardboard, silver paint, light-up toys, and jumbles of wires. The dialogue, some of which was written for this production by Moon and Graham David (who also plays the Martian Dropo) is hilariously bad and contains a few real gems, like “I didn’t come all the way to Big Thunder Mountain to get railroaded!”
If you can't bring yourself to go along with the joke, then there's no reason to go. But if you can let your hair down enough to appreciate grown men, painted green, declaiming while pointing toy space guns at each other, then you'll have a great time.
And if nothing else, it’s certainly a memorable way for Misfit Boy Productions to step on to the Charleston scene.