Barney the Elf | Greenhouse Theater Center | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Dixie Lynn Cartwright and Roy Samra in Barney the Elf

Dixie Lynn Cartwright and Roy Samra in Barney the Elf

Carin Silkaitis

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 30 2017
Price: $25
As a non-Christian, I have no brief for Christmas. But Other Theatre brings a whole chorusful of gold lamé briefs to this oddly compelling holiday tribute. I say "oddly" because the 90-minute show sure as hell doesn't follow the usual path to yuletide cheer. Santa Claus has died, to start, leaving behind a widow and one grown son, Junior, who's expected to follow in dad's footsteps. But Junior is a jerk, bent on introducing efficiencies at the expense of joy. One of his first acts is to fire Barney, whose exuberance makes his fellow elves entirely too happy. That sends Barney to Chicago, where he meets drag queen Zooey and learns a few things about himself, while we get the best-ever explanation of what makes reindeer fly. The whole ensemble is jolly and deft, but Roy Samra's Barney is incandescent, especially when singing a surprisingly unironic "O Holy Night." Dixie Lynn Cartwright's Zooey is endearingly wry. —Tony Adler



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