The Christmas Brothers | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Christmas Brothers 

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THE CHRISTMAS BROTHERS, Bailiwick Repertory. A year ago Philip Earl Johnson and Brian McCann wrote, directed, and starred in a flawed but sweet Christmas show called Christmas Brothers: A Couple of Flakes. About half the comic bits flopped, but Johnson, the cute one, and McCann, the goofy one, made such a great comedy team I had high hopes for their future collaborations.

Boy, was I wrong. This year's incarnation of The Christmas Brothers has all the faults of last year's show and none of its charm. The performances are sloppy, the sketches relentlessly unfunny. Johnson and McCann don't even have the same chemistry, in part because Johnson, instead of staying in his Dan Rowan/Dick Smothers role, keeps trying to outgoof McCann. Only Brian Blondell, in a brief drag cameo as "Mrs. Doubtfire," captures the playful spirit of last year's show. (Ever the sport, he handed out Christmas cookies at intermission, still in makeup, wig, and dowdy dress packed with tissue.)

"We like to end with a fizzle," McCann quipped after the disastrous parting sketch. It was one of the few genuinely funny lines in the whole show.

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