Theatre: “Oh Susannah” Halloween Special

After reading an amusing interview with Susannah Patchouli in See Magazine, I made an impromptu decision to attend this year’s Halloween edition of Oh Susannah, Edmonton’s only Euro-style variety show featuring the effervescent Patchouli (played by the hilarious Mark Meer).

Mark Meer as Susannah Patchouli (photo taken from the See Magazine article)

The show was to start at 11pm, with tickets on sale a half hour before that, so we figured arriving at 10:15pm would be fairly safe. Though we weren’t disappointed, we weren’t expecting such a crowd, with a line that looped claustrophobically through the tiny Varscona lobby (all the way down the hallway to the bathrooms). The staff were thoroughly accommodating through, and not only started selling tickets ahead of schedule, but also opened the house doors earlier than anticipated.

We settled in amongst the packed house, and Susannah, dressed in a witches hat and a “revealing” costume, appeared at show time and welcomed us. Two things amazed me, as they did the first time I watched Oh Susannah: that the Varscona stage can accommodate as many bodies as it does; and how Meer can complete the entire show with a straight face.

The Girls of the Grill were back (this time with an “I ‘otta choke you” sandwich made with artichoke spread), as were the Ladies of the Bar (who passed around “Skelletini” cocktails). Local celebrities were also interviewed, including Colin Oberst (the composer behind the new Hockey Night in Canada theme song) and Ronnie Burkett, who just premiered his newest production, Billy Twinkle, at the Citadel Theatre. This episode of Oh Susannah also featured The Game! The Game!, a regular highlight that was missing from the Christmas special I watched last year. I really extend credit to whomever designed the activities – they were immensely entertaining. From the borderline dirty trivia in round one, the challenge to craft a sculpture from pumpkin puree (resulting in, of course, one penis-shaped design) in round two and lastly, a winner-takes all round that had contestants toilet papering the audience…then having to re-roll the used tissue. Patricia Zentilli (currently performing as Audrey in the Mayfield Dinner Theatre’s Little Shop of Horrors) and Tracey Power (Living Shadows: A Story of Mary Pickford) were great sports.

The audience, as per last time, also helped make it a good time. They were expecting the various parts of the show, including the loud repetition of the phrase, “I don’t want to go to jail looking like this.” Many also dressed up in their finest Halloween garb to compete for “frugal but fabulous” prizes. My favourite costume went to the self-described “Discovery Channel Slow Zebra” – a zebra with a lion attached on its neck – too clever.

For the variety and laugh ratio we received, it was well worth our $10 ticket. The next show runs on November 29 at 11pm – go early!

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