On Stage

It's All Relative

Home for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It was Christmas Eve, and my brother and I had departed from his downtown Chicago apartment before dawn to catch the subway in time to get to O’Hare International Airport, where we’d be leaving to visit my dad in rural Hazard, Ky. for the holidays. 

I won’t bore you with every last detail of what went wrong that day, but the main issue that arose was that my dad—who’d booked our tickets—had gotten it wrong when he told us what airport we’d be flying out of. But despite having to spend a mint to get a cab to the correct airport, a snafu with the ticketing agent and the full-body search that ensued when my brother’s steel-toed boots angered the X-ray machine, we did manage to catch our flight (at the last possible second).

I won’t lie and say the rest of the Christmas vacation was picture-perfect, because when it comes to families and the holidays, that’s not always the case.

How families deal with what goes wrong—and also with what goes right—is at the heart of “Home for the Holidays,” the annual improvised holiday show taking place at the Upfront Theatre weekends through December.

The scenario for “Home for the Holidays” is simple. First, the audience helps figure out a few things about the storyline, such as who the family in question is and what inspires them. The performers use those suggestions to tell the tales of three main characters and their arrival home for a holiday get-together. What happens both before and during the Christmas celebration is explored, and hilarity typically ensues.

I’ve seen the format before, but per the press release I received before viewing the first “Home for the Holidays” performance of the season last Friday, I was reminded that “audiences can expect to see at least one family member they can relate to, as the performers explore the wonderful archetypes and scenarios that bubble up when families collide.”

That was the case at this show, too, as I found myself connecting to different members of the DeAngelos family. I saw myself clearly in the sister who freaked out during airplane turbulence, in the aunt who chose to curtail the details of her recent job loss rather than ruin the holiday vibe for the others, and in the nephew who said he was going out to get some air, but shortly thereafter got caught smoking dope in the backyard.

During the intermission, one of the members of our party said what he saw onstage also reminded him of his own familial festivities, where people strategically hid out in different part of the house to minimize altercations.

As the story barreled toward Christmas during the second half of the show, it became clear the reason people go a little insane around their relatives during the holidays is because they can.

“You can always come home and get the cheese log on the good crystal,” one of the characters told another after she’d drunkenly made a mess during a family toast. The others raised their glasses in solidarity. The takeaway? They weren’t perfect, but they were family.

More On Stage...
Blues Bros
Catching up with Elwood and Jake

Elwood Blues isn’t a real person, but he might as well be.

When Dan Aykroyd first channeled the character in 1978 during a memorable sketch on Saturday Night Live, he probably didn’t think he’d still be bringing the harmonica player and vocalist to life 40 years later, or that fellow…

more »
Love is Love
La Cage aux Folles

Love scenes can be difficult to pull off with finesse, but a memorable moment of tenderness during Bellingham Theatre Guild’s rendition of the musical La Cage aux Folles had me not only reaching for a hankie, but also grinning from ear to ear.

While much of the show is gloriously bawdy,…

more »
Colored Diamonds
An evening of flamenco

Savannah Fuentes’ pathway to becoming a sought-after Flamenco dancer reads somewhat like a Lifetime movie of the week.

While Fuentes doesn’t quite fit the “women in jeopardy” stereotype these female-focused flicks are known for, her story does check the box when it comes to going through…

more »
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

La Cage Aux Folles

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Wind in the Willows

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Brunch on the Bay

10:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Banned Books Week


Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Brunch and Learn

11:00am|Ciao Thyme

Your Vote Counts! Block Party

12:00pm|Depot Market Square

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

South Side Stories

2:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Waiting for the Whales

4:00pm|Village Books

Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single

6:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Moon Walk


Village Books
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week


Baker Lake Cleanup Signup Deadline

8:00am|Baker Lake

Wheelchair Gangball

3:30pm|Bloedel Donovan

Monday Night Pizza

5:30pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Books on Tap

6:30pm|El Agave 2

Open Mic Night

7:00pm|Village Books


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week


Rainbow Reads Book Club

3:00pm| Ferndale Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Seabird Struggles

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Beginning Square Dance Lessons

7:00pm|Ten Mile Grange

Warlbers and Woodpeckers

7:00pm|Village Books

Comedy Open Mic


see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Web