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Bricolage's Animated Holidaze 

It's the sort of show you'd present to an alien to explain the whole season.

The last show of the fifth season of Bricolage's Midnight Radio series, Animated Holidaze, is a dash through the cartoons of Christmas past, re-scored and voiced by Midnight Radio regulars and directed by Jeffrey Carpenter, with musical accompaniment by Cello Fury.

Animated Holidaze, written by Tami Dixon, Gayle Pazerski and Brad Stephenson, takes a shotgun-blast approach to the holidays, trying to cover every common response to this time of excess and marketing. There are parodies of old holiday ads (make your wife's life worth living with kitchen appliances!) and unadorned presentations of classic stories. It's the sort of show you'd present to an alien to explain the whole season, why we of the Northern Hemisphere don't feel too hopeless as the nights become longer and the roads become deadlier.

A show like this stands on the strength of its segments, and what's there is pretty solid — new celebrity impressions dubbed over Rankin-Bass films; an interview with the creepiest Elf on a Shelf imaginable; and a remarkably straightforward performance of the narration and music of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I'm not sure I fully "got" the latter, because the original is still readily available and there didn't seem to be much to add. However, even when segments didn't strike you too warmly, you could enjoy the quality animation projected on the wall. I had forgotten how much talent Chuck Jones brought to the Grinch, and it was nice to remember.

In this show, there's no singling out the sound design for special praise because it was 90 percent of the performance. Cello Fury brought the show to musical extremes, from foreboding to jubilation. The vocal performers were spot-on in their timing (particularly Sheila McKenna). And the foley artist, Skyler Sullivan, would deserve praise even if he'd provided sound effects only for the aforementioned Grinch performance, and every plink of every stolen Christmas tree bauble.

If you're enchanted by the idea of little claymation snowmen swearing, or if you appreciate every opportunity you get to see live foley work, then Midnight Radio is the best way to get excited for the most stressful time of the year.

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