A musical spoof for adults performed by a cast of kids, it lures you in with the promise of acidic satire that lampoons not just L. Ron Hubbard’s sci-fi religion (admittedly an easy target), but also the entire enterprise of hokey, sappy Christmas celebrations.
And then, just when your defenses are relaxed, it infects your hard, shriveled heart with suspiciously holidaylike warmth and cheer by being utterly, absurdly adorable.
Written by Kyle Jarrow and first produced in 2003 in New York, this faux pageant traces the life of Hubbard, starting with a manger scene (actually, a little red wagon). It’s packed with hilarious sight gags, including a puppet show demonstrating the Scientological practice of “auditing,” and some surprisingly catchy paeans to the great one (“The L stands for Love, the L stands for Life/ The L stands for Lead us out of strife!”).
It’s clever, funny stuff, but what makes it work is the young cast. Maxx Carlisle-King, a veteran of the Valley stage at age 12, makes a hilariously smug and superior L. Ron – his twitching eye during the big IRS trial will have you in stitches – while Brittney Peters, also 12, keeps the whole thing moving as the beaming emcee named Angelic Girl.
They’re both good singers, too, as is Alexandra Odneal, who gives a lovely solo on Rain. The same can’t be said for all of the kids (some as young as 8), but that’s kind of the point. It’s amateur on purpose, so, for example, when there is a slight snag with the scenery, you can’t be sure whether it’s a technical problem or a rehearsed gag.
One thing you can be sure of: You will leave the theater with a smile, and maybe even a goofy song in your Scrooge-like heart.
I’m surprised the scilons aren’t suing these kids!