Theater Review: Cheryl Moritz rules in ‘Who’s Holiday’ at Civic
Civic Theatre of Allentown is presenting a winning double-header of parodies for the 2019 holiday season, with “A Christmas Carole 1944” on the main stage, based on Charles Dickens’ sublime classic “A Christmas Carol” and, just across 19th Street, the adult comedy “Who’s Holiday!,” with the main character borrowed from Dr. Seuss’ delightful story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
Remember Cindy Lou Who, the very cute youngster who discovered the Grinch stealing her Christmas tree in Whoville? Well, she’s the one hanging out at Civic’s Theatre514 through Dec. 22, although she is using the alias of amazingly gifted actor Cheryl Moritz.
Cindy Lou is middle-aged now, living in a trailer, the inside of which was created by scenic designer Sam Roff. The misshapen doors and windows, and the helter-skelter tinsel decorations and colored lights are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’ children’s book illustrations.
With her abundant curly hair, black crinoline skirt and multi-colored striped stockings, Mary Lou Who is very entertaining and funny, but you’ll have to excuse some of her behavior.
She talks in rhyme with a generous sprinkling of expletives, drinks too much, takes pills and obsesses on why she hates Christmas Eve. No wonder, with all the fateful turns she says her past has taken.
As she told it on opening night Dec. 13 when the show was seen for this review, her troubles started because she encouraged the Grinch to steal the presents from her home on Christmas Eve.
It went downhill from there, with her serving time in prison. She’ll have to tell you about that herself.
Although the stories she tells are from her own life, the words she speaks, whether satirical or heart-rending, were all artfully written for her by award-winning New York playwright Matthew Lombardo:
“I just hate Christmas Eve … See?
“My loathing stems from a deep-rooted place
“In a town known as Whoville, where I can’t show my face.
You remember the city. So festive. So white.
Our holiday seasons were filled with delight.
How we’d sing ‘Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores’ with glee
“As we put goo-goo-gums and foo-foo-fluffs on the tree.”
Lombardo’s script is generous with comic one-liners, but underneath the nonsense is a message about the loneliness that many people experience during the holidays.
Behind the scenes, “Who’s Holiday!” director Will Morris has done an enviable job of giving Cindy Lou her stage movements and helping polish her line-delivery.
Morris also has made sure that “Who’s Holiday!” has all the best technical support to keep Cindy Lou well-lit, pun intended, and costumed (Paul Halaga).
Adding to the realism of Cindy Lou’s incarceration, part of the sound design (Randall Utsch) mimics the metallic banging of jail-cell doors as they open and close. Nice touch.
While many skilled stage-show technicians contribute to the success of “Who’s Holiday!” there is no arguing that this is a one-woman show from beginning to end. The show is Cindy Lou Who (Moritz), and Cindy Lou is the show. Moritz’s energy is boundless, her comic-timing flawless and her ability to engage the audience remarkable.
Tickets: Civic Theatre of Allentown box office, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 19th Street Theatre, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown; civictheatre.com; 610-432-8943