If you can imagine Charles Dickens, Rankin/Bass, fruitcake and Santa Claus all stuffed into a blender and puréed, you’ll have some idea of what Every Christmas Story Ever Told is about. In a short span of time, this zany holiday mashup comes extremely close to being literally what its title says it is. Having appeared at San Jose Stage two years ago, Every Christmas Story Ever Told is now back by popular demand.

Returning audience members may notice a few changes, as the play is often revised to include the most up-to-date pop culture allusions. This time around, for instance, there are some affectionate references to the 2010 World Series champs. However, the main target of the play’s gentle ribbing is still holiday tradition, especially BHCs (Beloved Holiday Classics), those well-worn film and television chestnuts that are invariably rolled out every December.As the play begins, we see three actors (Robert Parsons, Martin Rojas-Dietrich and Will Springhorn Jr.) beginning to perform a rather stale rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This is the biggest and most time-honored BHC of all, but the trio decide that there are other Christmas stories worth telling. They then proceed to rollick through a series of hysterically skewed versions of BHCs like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (renamed “Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat” to avoid copyright issues) and The Gift of the Magi, sometimes with audience participation.

Interspersed throughout are tidbits of yuletide tradition from around the world. We are told of the Scandinavian penchant for burying fish in the ground until they ferment—and then eating them for Christmas. We also learn that when Santa Claus visits Holland he kidnaps children who have been naughty and puts them in his sack.

The cast is absolutely hilarious. Rojas-Dietrich plays a character with a childlike enthusiasm for all things Christmas, and Parsons shares the spirit. Springhorn’s character is more serious, always wanting to get back to A Christmas Carol. He gets his wish in the second act, but Carol doesn’t survive in one piece—it is merged with It’s a Wonderful Life. If, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you don’t feel like watching the now heavily edited Rankin/Bass specials on the ABC Family channel, remember that a fine alternative awaits you at the Stage, one that provides more BHCs for your buck.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told
A San Jose Stage Company Production
Wed-Thu, 7:30pm, Fri-Sat, 8pm, Sun, 2pm. No show Nov. 26. Runs through Dec. 19
The Stage, 490 S. First St., San Jose
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