Theatre in Review: “Fall On Your Knees: Six-Yule Orientation” at Illusion Theatre & “A Christmas Carol Petersen,” at Theatre Latte Da

December 15, 2004.By Steven LaVigne, Living Out.

Having worked as an usher in my youth, I’ve avoided most holiday entertainments since. This year, however, I took in two, both of which have much to offer the Scrooges among us.

For the sixth year, the Illusion theatre hosts Miss Richfield 1981 in “Fall on Your Knees,” this year subtitled “Six-Yule Orientation.” It wastes no time drawing in the audience, opening with a creative video where, Miss Richfield, dressed as a Christmas Tree at the Lyndale Garden Center, is brought and, after falling off Michael Robbins’ car, takes the Light Rail downtown to the Hennepin Center for the Arts. This year’s theme, Christmas Around the World, features the star leading us in a new song about being a “Christmas Tree Hugger.”

Miss Richfield shares similarities with Dame Edna as members of the audience are brought onstage, where they creative holiday crafts “for girls,” as the men wear festive hats while Miss Richfield chomps gum and does risqué things with a microphone stuck in the man’s crotch. She describes Richfield as a place where “Butter is a spice and gravy is a beverage.” A member of the Mighty Fortress is Our God Lutheran Church, she and the Liturgical Dancers share the story of the Virgin Birth to the tune of “Proud Mary.”

We’re given sequences from the television pilot, “Cooking’s a Drag,” which is sold, but hasn’t aired. She describes a gay commitment ceremony as “a kegger with tablecloths,” and shares part of her summer show, “Holy Moley Matrimony,” performed in Providence, R.I.

From a mixed up singalong, where “Little Town of Bethlehem” is sung to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Silent Night” to the music for “Away in a Manger” to the extraordinary finale, of “White Christmas” played on a musical saw, “Fall On Your Knees: Six-Yule Orientation,” is a treat. It continues at the Illusion Theatre in the Hennepin Center for the Arts, through December 20.

Theatre Latté Da returns with “A Christmas Carole Petersen.” Tod Petersen’s quirky, yet loving celebration of a small Midwestern town’s holiday traditions, which serves as a salute to his mother, the Carole Petersen of the title.

“A Christmas Carole Petersen “ plays like a twisted Bob Hope holiday special, as it moves back and forth in time. Unlike Petersen’s solo performance art pieces, it allows the others in the ensemble, David A. Anderson, Jody Briskey, and Marshall Keating, an opportunity to shine as well. We see Petersen’s audition for the Mankato Community Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickenson,” and passages from assorted Petersen holiday “brag” letters are shared. There’s a tribute to the Partridge Family, and other icons of the 1970s, and, while one would like more of Petersen directly addressing the audience, this is a solid, joyous, yet personal holiday entertainment.

“A Christmas Carole Petersen,” continues at the Loring Playhouse, through January 2.