On Stage

Comedy, Ego, Music

A very Van Dingo Christmas

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Johnny Van Dingo and Pete Crandall have a long history together.

But while Crandall is a well-known player in Bellingham’s theater scene—where he acts, directs, writes plays, makes short films and occasionally gifts the world with music—Van Dingo may not be as well known.

That will change this weekend, when the manager of the longtime Bellingham band Clambake presents “The Johnny Van Dingo Christmas Special” at two late-night shows Dec. 20-21 at the iDiOM Theater.

Because the show’s subhead is the “Pete Crandall Self-Indulgence Hour,” it’s probably best to point out that Crandall and Van Dingo are one and the same.

“Out of all my nom de plumes, Johnny is the most likely to have a Christmas special,” Crandall told me last week. “I have a couple other identities, but those are usually a little darker.”

While Crandall and Van Dingo are remaining mum on the particulars of the surprises that can be be expected at the show, they did tell me that the list of performers includes (but is not limited to) Kimberly Ross, Tim Greger, Kari Severns, Ron Warner, Trevor Van Houton, and others. Music, comedy and ego are on the agenda, and the gigs will also include a variety of short films.

“We’re going to take a sleigh ride through my mind,” Van Dingo says. “There will be some disturbing things, some funny things and some heartwarming things—just the way Christmas should be.”

When it was pointed out the Clever Bunny Cabarets the iDiOM used to present at midnight tended to get more than a little rowdy on occasion, Van Dingo noted that since he was hosting a Christmas show, he’d try to reign himself in a little. He then added that since the performances will happen long after kids have been tucked in for the night, audiences should expect at least a little weirdness, and that he wouldn’t be upset if they showed up under the influence of Christmas spirits.

Crandall agrees, and says he’s enjoyed working with Van Dingo on the holiday hijinks. And, after seeing many of his talented friends chip in to make sure “The Johnny Van Dingo Christmas Special” is a success, he can’t help but be affected by the reason for the season.

“I asked a lot of people to do a lot of things for it, and everyone has been really generous with their time and their effort,” Crandall says. “If there’s a holiday message in there, it’s that the people in this town are really giving. If that doesn’t say Christmas, then I don’t know what does.”

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