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'Holiday Hell': A Faustian Twist on Classic Christmas Variety Shows

For decades, holiday variety specials on TV offered audiences a doorway into the living rooms of big celebrities like Perry Como, Andy Williams and Bing Crosby. Of course, the living rooms were really soundstages and the family moments a bit over-scripted; but all the same, these shows were a special part of the season for families around the country.

Now, In Tandem Theatre is spinning this classic Christmas trope on its head with its production of Holiday Hell: The Curse of Perry Williams.

"I think a lot of audience members have an idea of what those shows look like and who those men were. And so to honor that and give them what they expect, but at the same time put a little bit of yourself into it, is what was interesting for me," says Adam Estes, who plays the titular character Perry Williams. 

"All of our stuff - while it is alternative, there's some funny stuff, there's some bawdy stuff, there might me some stuff that some might consider heretical or sacrilegious, although I don't - really both the 'Cudahy Carolers' and this show have a very, ultimately traditional message about getting back to the reason for the season. We just get there by a very circuitous route," says director, Chris Flieller. 

Holiday Hell: The Curse of Perry Williams features Adam Estes as Perry Williams and Zach Williams as the proverbial man behind the curtain, Benny. The show opens December 2 at 8 pm at In Tandem Theatre and runs through the first week of January. 

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.