Arts and Entertainment

Spending the holidays with the Portable Reality Show

Anything is possible when everything is improvised — the Portable Reality Show hosts its improvised Christmas Musical Saturday. - Courtesy photo (above) / Bill Mickelson Staff Photo (right)
Anything is possible when everything is improvised — the Portable Reality Show hosts its improvised Christmas Musical Saturday.
— image credit: Courtesy photo (above) / Bill Mickelson Staff Photo (right)

Jewel Box Theater’s resident improv troupe offers pay-what-you-can ‘Improvised Christmas Musical’ Dec. 13.

Don’t be fooled by the title, this isn’t your average Christmas Musical.

In fact, there may not even be any actual Christmas carols.

With the Portable Reality Show, everything is of the moment and anything is possible. Because everything is improvised. From the story line, to the songs, to the soundtrack guitar, even the guy in the light booth is working ad lib.

Which means the audience can never really expect what they’re getting into. Other than maybe one of the first rules of improv — to expect the unexpected.

Spending last Sunday evening with the Portable Reality Show, I expected something of chestnuts roasting on an open fire whilst the PRS players cracked jokes in song through Christmas carols. Instead, I watched the story unfold of a frustrated line cook who thinks he might be gay, working at a truck stop diner, trapped in a life with a wife and two kids; a PS3-addicted boy in an old man’s body who hasn’t left his grandma’s trailer in years; a quietly aspiring actress whose stuck in the desert with the truck stop her father left her after he died and a lady with a broken down tour bus who has the potential to change everything.

The PRS players came up with all of this, including a host of song and dance numbers on the spot, off my suggestion of a truck stop as the setting. Suffice to say, the audience can expect something a little more festive for the holiday special.

Already in the spirit, I wanted to go with the North Pole for the setting, but the group said they’re saving up all their holiday ideas for the holiday crowd Dec. 13.

The improvised holiday special has been PRS tradition for years, albeit a bit spontaneous, said PRS player Sandi Spellman. Last year the players featured a holiday season show which wasn’t Christmas-themed at all. The year before that, their holiday show was bookended by Christmas carol sing-a-longs.

This year, they’re focused on providing an entirely improvised holiday show for the entire family.

And while it’s fairly simple to keep the content family-friendly for a holiday show, the PRS is taking it one step further in making its prices family-friendly as well.

“We wanted something for the whole family,” PRS player Crystal Gurney said. Thinking of her own family of four, with tickets at $8-$10-per-person, if she weren’t in the show, she said they probably wouldn’t come out because of the cost.

For a lot of folks, spending more than $20 for an evening of entertainment just isn’t financially feasible anymore. Still, they thought, no one should be left out during the holidays — which led to the pay-what-you-can priced tickets the night of the show.

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