The White Album Christmas variety show is surprisingly really fun. This fourth annual show very much attracts a certain demographic: Beatles lovin', patchouli smellin', nouveau circus appreciators. But really, as long as you can stand the Beatles, it's a damned good time. There are standout performances by the Wanderlust Circus and their compadres, a near spot-on re-creation of the Beatles' White Album (which is a bit of mixed blessing... "Revolution 9," ugh) by the Nowhere Band, and wonderful aerial acrobatics by the AWOL Collective. Even if all the previously described glittery shenanigans leave you cold, it's the Wild West lasso-wielding clown Leapin' Louie Lichtenstein who's going to make the $20 price tag well worth your time. The man is fucking amazing. The crowd lost their shit after every one of his acts—from the 20-foot diameter lasso he swung overhead while riding a super-tall unicycle, to the bull whip he cracked at the front row's faces. He does have a bit of a splatter zone—watch for silly string, cordite smells, and ropes thwacking at your nose. I'd see this guy perform again in a heartbeat.
More after the jump.
The 4th Annual White Album Christmas
w/the Nowhere Band and Wanderlust Circus
Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta
tonight and tomorrow, 9 pm
UPDATE: due to demand, a new show was added for Sunday @ 7:30 pm
There's a lot of stimuli in White Album Christmas. On stage left is the behemoth Nowhere Band—sometimes more than 15 musicians—chronologically playing their way through the Beatles' 30-song, double album from 1968. The band sounded good, all bazillion of 'em. It doesn't seem necessary to enact all those songs, some are real stinkers like the aforementioned "Revolution" and the obnoxious "Piggies." But I suppose you'd have a lyrics-screaming-middle-aged-lady uprising on their hands if the Wanderlust Circus were to do the curation the Beatles couldn't.
Meanwhile on stage right was the performances of the Wanderlust Circus, which included jugglers, tumblers, acrobats, a trick bike rider, a crazy chainsaw mime, and the lovely aerialists of the AWOL Collective, all presided over by ringmaster William Batty. Acts usually perform for one to two songs, then the band would play alone, with interstitial patter by Batty and small skits featuring his belly-dancing love the Wild Woman, which was the loose plot threaded through the show. I'll let the creators describe the story:
Ours is a fairy tale of life and love on the Endless Road, in which The Wild Woman is tempted toward the civilizing influence of Big Time Showbiz. Will our diamond in the rough ditch her piebald cousins in favor of the Bright Lights of Broadway, or will family win out over the two-fisted assault of fortune and fame?
If that sounds overblown and unnecessary, you sir, are correct. There's already so much happening during the three-hour runtime that a "plot" is the last thing this variety show needs. Just let the vaudeville speak for itself. But it's a minor complaint. This show is packed to the gills with acts. The best of which are Leapin' Louie, a wonderful little lady acrobat (that's her in the picture below, sadly I didn't catch her name) elegantly and aggressively wrestling a hulking dandy (see picture), the neck-straining aerial acrobatics which are beautiful and scary and supremely athletic, and great boyishly hawt bike tricks by Blake Hicks.
The short of it: It's kind of a blast. I forgot the circus is meant to be fun, with its likeable schmaltz and gaudy entertainment. Best of all, it's a holiday show that has virtually nothing to do with the holidays. Sold. Plus, I'm still picking glitter and silly string out of my hair, so I got a little makeover out of the deal.
Pro tip: Bring some fruit leather and a tiny bag of Cheerios for sustenance, and a tent for the bathroom line—did I mention it's nearly three hours long?
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