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Grain of Sand Theatre You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole

By • Dec 5th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole
Grain of Sand Theatre
The Shop at Fort Fringe, Washington, DC
Through December 23rd
85 minutes, no intermission
$15/$10 with Fringe button
Reviewed December 2nd, 2012

Ah, the holidays — a time for egg nog, family reunions, and remembering how little we actually like both (kidding, Mom). If there’s one thing I love, it’s satire — especially when it comes to Christmas. From The Eight: Reindeer Monologues to Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, Christmastime is rife with material for great comedic theatre — and DC’s Grain of Sand Theatre has capitalized on this exceptionally well with their production of Matt Hanf’s You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole currently running at the Shop at Fort Fringe.

We join our familiar friends at the North Pole as Santa’s (Carl Brandt Long) marriage is being threatened by his work schedule, his apparent apathy, and an attractive but emotionally unstable elven assistant called Rita (Christine Lange). Santa’s wife Marjorie (Heather Whitpan) exacts her revenge by taking up with the armed and dubious Tooth Fairy (Ryan Sellers) — all while a certain sour, drunken reindeer (John Stange) stirs up all kinds of trouble by sticking his red nose into everybody else’s business. When everybody meets up in Mexico under various contrived circumstances, the proverbial “it” hits the fan and hilarity abounds.

Director Sara Bickler has helmed a silly little show that doesn’t try to be anything other than fun (and quite a lot of fun it is!). As much of a Grinch as I can be, I love seeing performers truly enjoy the piece that they’re performing and that was absolutely the impression that I got from every single cast member. The minimal set designed by Kristina Nelson and lighting by Timothy Nielsen deftly filled the awkwardly small theatre and created just the type of slightly askew winter wonderland that best serves this twisted Christmas carol while keeping the whole thing lighthearted.

The small cast of DC-based actors brought a whimsical yet snarky energy to the show and made each of the roles completely their own. John Stange as Rudolph and Heather Whitpan as Marjorie Claus were particularly delightful — Ms. Whitpan constantly reminded me of Megan Mullally (of “Will & Grace” fame) with her acerbic asides and “above-it-all” brashness. And if you’ve ever wondered what Santa Claus is like after a long night a-wassailing, let me assure you that Carl Brandt Long delivers one of the subtlest and funniest drunk performances I’ve ever seen!

With some adult situations but a surprising lack of adult language, I would highly recommend You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole to kids from 12 to 92 (ok, a bit of a stretch for that joke, but go with it…). Grain of Sand Theatre has taken Christmas by the jingle bells and presented DC with a charming and highly enjoyable romp best enjoyed with three French hens, two turtle-doves, and a few grains of salt generously applied to the rim of a glass.

Photo Gallery

John Stange as Rudolph Mrs. Claus and the Tooth Fairy (Heather Whitpan and Ryan Sellers)
John Stange as Rudolph
Mrs. Claus and the Tooth Fairy (Heather Whitpan and Ryan Sellers)
Sad Santa (Carl Brandt Long)
Sad Santa (Carl Brandt Long)

Photos provided by Grain of Sand Theatre


  • Rudolph: John Stange
  • Rita: Christine Lange
  • Santa: Carl Brandt Long
  • Marjorie: Heather Whitpan
  • Tooth Fairy: Ryan Sellers

Production Team

  • Stage Managers: Rin Hutter, Pamela Leahigh
  • Set Design: Kristina Nelson
  • Fight Choreography/Sound Design: Carl Brandt Long
  • Director: Sara Bickler

Disclaimer: Grain of Sand Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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, a native of Frederick, MD, has been heavily involved in every single facet of theatre for the majority of his life. He has been seen on stages in Frederick, Charles Town, WV, Kensington, MD, Greenbelt, MD, Gettysburg, PA, and many others. A two-time WATCH Award nominee, Eric has over 80 shows to his credit and is a double-graduate of Frederick County's Arts and Communications Academy in music and theatre. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Maryland and currently lives in Frederick.

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