Forte Musical Theatre Guild’s annual tradition is back this year, with all of the same naughty holiday themed entertainment befitting of a Christmas cabaret.
Naughty… but Nice! is a festive Calgary treat, that is part improv, part musical theatre, and all comedy.
“It’s a musical night out, but it’s full of laughs, and topical genres and topics that are in the zeitgeist each year,” said the show’s director, JP Thibodeau.
“We really spend a lot of time homing in on one of the topics that Christmas, like Elf on the Shelf, or Die Hard, and whether it’s a movie or whether it’s a Christmas thing like that,” Thibodeau said.
The 2022 performances of Naughty… but Nice! are being held in Forte’s own theatre for the first time, and with three brand new actors. It’s also the first time the show has been done in person since the pandemic began, after two-years of online versions of the show.
Returning for their ninth year will be fan favourite songs like Baileys for Breakfast, alongside a new topical comedy that Thibodeau said makes up about half the performance.
“Bailey’s for breakfast, which is the only song that has been in every production of the show since we started, is about a dad saying how he gets through the holidays, and there’s only one way he can do it is by starting the day off right,” he said.
“It’s about eight new songs in the show this year, and one of those songs is about a father who’s sick of getting ties and sweaters for Christmas and just wants an Xbox or switch or something different. So, you know, relatable things.”
Shows run from Dec. 7 through Dec. 23.
Tickets are available online at www.fortemusical.ca.
A real Calgary Christmas draw for audiences
Thibodeau said that some of the songs veer into the naughtier side of Christmas, like “get out of the f***ing way,” which speaks to just about everyone’s Christmas woes shopping.
The show draws faithful fans of the performances every year, and this year will likely be no exception.
“I think it’s for the friends who just want to go for a drink and take in a Christmas show, but don’t want all the bushiness that sometimes goes along with Christmas. So, you can just come hang out and have fun and ultimately, the Christmas spirit is felt, so you still leave feeling Christmas,” Thibodeau said.
“We have groups every year who come back year after year, and they started out with our group of four friends and now they’re up to 15-20 people coming into the show together to celebrate.
“We have block parties, entire streets get together, they come to the show to watch the show, so it’s just a great night for adults to get together and celebrate Christmas without feeling the stuffiness of what it might be traditionally.”
Award winning show back with new cabaret seating
Naughty… But Nice! is a winner of the Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical, the Calgary Critics’ Award for Best Direction and two AMPIA Rosie Awards for Best Musical or Variety Program.
New this year are cabaret table seating that Thibodeau said really complemented the theme of the show over the past decade.
“The show always has had that cabaret feel, but now we kind of really have had the tables to do it with it, so it’ll feel way more interactive this year,” he said.
He said that the introduction of three new cast members this year has also brought new perspectives and new energy to this year’s show.
“It’s great because they always bring new energy and new ideas, and I think what people don’t understand about this show is we get the song, and that’s it,” Thibodeau.
“When we get the script, we create it with the people in the room, so, with these three new actors, they helped create the show we do every year.”
Special show for the performers too
One of the new performers this year, Katelyn Morishita, said that the show would be a fresh one for audiences.
She praised the ability to do music that couldn’t be done in any other show.
“Because most of it is locally written, I think that just makes it that much more special. It’s just funny, goofy, and then there’s some really great, serious grounded music as well,” Morishita said.
“The lyrics are so clever, and they’re so funny, and some of its raunchy, some of its great, and it’s just something to really entertain you and lighten your spirits. It’s an important piece to be performing, especially the last few years that we’ve had.”
Morishita said that it was great as a performer to be involved in something that makes people happy during the holidays.
“This is just such a great spin on celebrating Christmas, because when I think of Christmas, I think of very slow, beautiful hymns, or you know, the classic Christmas songs, and [Naughty… But Nice!] is just such a wildly different way to celebrate Christmas and enjoy Christmas.”