The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged)

Reduced Shakespeare Company returns to Edison Dec. 7-8

Left to right: Matt Rippy, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor of The Reduced Shakespeare Company. The group returns to Edison Dec. 7 and 8 with The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged). Photo by Meghan Moore. Download high-res image.

They’ve shaken Shakespeare, humiliated Hollywood and affronted all the great books.Now the Reduced Shakespeare Company — those emperors of editing, those sultans of summary, those bad boys of abbreviation — is back and ready to tackle its most fearsome opponent yet: Santa Claus.

On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8, the RSC will return to the Edison Ovations Series at Washington University with The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), an irreverent yet heartwarming harrumph through the holidays.

Gasp at the shocking truth behind beloved Christmas traditions! Rekindle the childlike joy and crippling emotional dysfunction of family gatherings! Cringe at the origins of the term “Nutcracker!”

The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Photo by Meghan Moore. Download high-res image.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged)Written and directed by RSC stalwarts Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, The Ultimate Christmas Show boasts the antic, anything-for-a-laugh energy of a classic Vaudeville routine.

“Welcome to St. Everybody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church, where all faiths are welcome because we’ll believe anything,” Tichenor begins.

St. Everybody’s, it appears, is presenting its annual Multicultural Interfaith Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant. Unfortunately, a sudden snowstorm has forced all the acts to cancel.

But the show must go on and Reed and Tichenor, joined by Matt Rippy, rise to the occasion. They sing, they dance, they serenade Mrs. Claus. Donning sheep hats and pig noses, they reenact the birth in the manger from the animals’ point of view. They write Santa, recite verse about airline travel and channel their inner Bee Gees.

They invite audience members to exchange gifts. In a concluding flourish, they re-choreograph The Nutcracker for elf ballet.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) will make your spirits bright,” says Broadway World, “whether you joyfully embrace the upcoming season or get dragged into it kicking and screaming.”

“Regardless of your religious persuasion, The Ultimate Christmas Show will deliver a good time, gift-wrapped in a tidy package of song, parody and anachronistic Dance Fever disco moves,” adds The Nashua Telegraph.

Or, as the RSC puts it in song:

“Happy Merry Christmahanukwanzakah!
That’s the only thing you’ll ever have to say!
Happy Merry Christmahanukwanzakah!
Wishes everyone a jolly holiday!”

Tickets and sponsors

Performances of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) take place at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8. Tickets are $36, or $32 seniors, $28 for Washington University faculty and staff and $20 for students and children.

Tickets are available at the Edison Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call (314) 935-6543, e-mail or visit

Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors.