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Lighten Up on the Lowbrow
I attended a performance of Bunbury Theatre’s “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol” this evening after reading your contributor’s particularly mean-spirited review (LEO, Dec. 12). Based on Sherry Deatrick’s begrudging remark that the patrons seemed to enjoy the performance and “laughed in all the right places,” I believe the audience experience I shared tonight was similar to that of hers last Friday.
Like your reviewer, my personal preference isn’t lowbrow humor. I’m not even particularly a fan of musicals. However, I do know not to expect the moral messaging of a Greek tragedy when I go to see a holiday musical comedy. What I do expect is to have a little bit of escapist fun with my fellow theatergoers. And what fun we had this evening!
The crowd laughed often and loudly. The remarks overheard at intermission clearly indicated an audience enjoying themselves. When I took the time to look at the faces of the patrons during the performance, what I saw was joy, pure and simple. And isn’t that what the holiday season is all about? Joy and fellowship?
As her sharp pen indicates an intelligent writer, I was perplexed by Deatrick’s reference to the plot’s “non-sequiturs.” The supposed illogical references to Gunner’s “lazy tadpoles” and the cross-dressing song were rather simple and obvious plot devices. The stress of not being able to conceive a child was the key point of tension and conflict between the play’s leading lady and man. The Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come forced Gunner (Scrooge) to sing a girly tune to teach him two important lessons: 1) to get in touch with his feminine side and share his feelings with wife Clara, and 2) to let go of his Scrooge-like ways, loosen up and have fun.
Like Clara coaxed Gunner in “Don’t Hug Me” and the three ghosts did for Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” I encourage Deatrick to jump off the high horse and join us “lowest common denominators” for a little levity. The spirit of the season can be found in enjoying a little silliness (no matter how lowbrow) and laughter with your fellow man.
Kim Butterweck, Louisville
(The writer, a member of Bunbury’s board of directors, notes that comments are her own and not offered on behalf of the board.)
In Spite Of
I’m writing this in response to Sherry Deatrick’s review of “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol.” I’ve been doing theater, both professionally and as an avocation, for more than 20 years. I’ve never come across a reviewer who takes such joy in savagely tearing people apart. After her review of “Arrangement for Two Violas,” I thought she’d had a bad day and was taking it out on the cast. However, I’m starting to sense a pattern.
This is America, and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. I respect that. Deatrick seems to relish being cruel. I don’t know if she’s a failed performer who has embraced the green-eyed monster or just a masochist who thrives on verbal attacks, but what she seems to feel, acerbic wit, is simply uncalled for. Louisville is a community that thrives on the arts, and when you have someone who viciously attacks professional productions with such glee, it hurts the theater, the arts community and your readership. I don’t know if Deatrick has had any formal theatrical training (from some of her questions regarding major plot points and conflicts between characters, I’m guessing not), but being a critic does not equal being a journalistic Vlad the Impaler. There are ways to get one’s point across without insulting people who have put in countless hours to entertain. I’m very disappointed.
Julia Zielinski Gabis, La Grange
(The writer plays the roles of Bernice and Tiny in Bunbury’s “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol.”)
A review is a personal opinion of how one likes or dislikes something.
I have attended two performances of the Bunbury Theatre’s “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol.” On opening night, there were 100-plus people (144 seats) who I watched roar with laughter and give a standing O.
Saturday night, there was a sold-out house and, again, a standing O. Maybe Tiny Tim’s song while standing on a Christmas gift isn’t funny to some, but I don’t believe it. Or “The Wheel’s a Turning, but the Hamster’s Dead” or that great Christmas song “I Love You More Than Football.” I rate this performance equal to “A Tuna Christmas,” “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker.”
The 400-plus people who’ve attended the first week, The C-J and TheaterLouisville.org (TheatreLouisville was critical of a sound problem that’s been fixed) ALL can’t be wrong.
Maybe you should attend the show and form your own opinion. After being dark for three years, I believe the Bunbury Theatre is making a great comeback and deserves the support of the community and the media.
Bill Atherton, Louisville
Got the Chops?
I would like for you to inform me as to the credentials of Sherry Deatrick allowing her to review theater for LEO. My wife and I are 80 years old and have attended theaters over a good part of the world. We now have season tickets to Actors Theatre, Center Stage Productions at JCC, Pandora Productions and Bunbury Theatre. We were actively involved in three theaters in Florida, both musical and dramatic. We laughed and enjoyed “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol” at the Bunbury, as did our guest and all in attendance, and have recommended it to all of our friends as good entertainment. Deatrick made reference to expectations of a theater “of this caliber.” Since this is only the second regular-season production of the Bunbury since they lost their lease three years ago at their old location, what does she base her caliber of the theater on? I feel Deatrick may have another agenda or simply does not understand the difference between live theater and edited TV or movies.
Robert S. Brown, Louisville