In Colorado Springs, Millibo Art Theatre mixes it up with ‘Yule Be Naughty Too’

Looking for some spicier theatrical fare this holiday season? Forget the traditional family-friendly entertainment for a moment and ramble into the risqué one last weekend for Yule be Naughty Too. It’s the second annual helping of holiday irreverence from the Millibo Art Theatre in Colorado Springs. Running through Dec. 22, this MAT mainstay is comedy and circus delivering the unexpected.

Now in its 17th season, Millibo co-founders and directors Birgitta DePree and Jim Jackson are partners in life and on stage, co-emceeing the show with the well-timed wit of polished performers. In his red socks, nose and knickers, Jackson is a humble clown masquerading as a seasonal elf. His playbill bio touts that he ran away to join the circus when he was 20 — and it’s probably true. Jackson and DePree launch each act with bawdy banter laced with not-so-subtle innuendo. It’s the kind of dirty you don’t want to wash-off, at least for a while.

As the indomitable Babette on-stage, the statuesque DePree waves her unlit cigarette as she recollects stories of a colorful Bulgarian childhood with bizarre holiday traditions. The musings explode into cheeky tales as Jackson plays the humble oversized elf igniting audience engagement. Not only do the pair synch perfectly, they improvise with ease. Minor stumbles and missed cues are but fodder for more comedy and interplay with the audience is masterfully executed.

A Christmas-y cabaret

A true cabaret show, the entire cast co-creates the acts around an established theme:  mischief and mayhem behind Santa’s back. The show manages risqué just this side of raunchy. Every act pushes the comic button to be bad.

Music is the show’s backdrop. Songsters Miriam Roth and Zachery Seliquini Guzman are as playful as they are talented. The duo project chemistry as they belt-out holiday favorites with campy twists. Strutting the stage in her cocktail dress, Roth enchants with sultry glances and velvet vocals — toying with the brave and unsuspecting first-rowers. An acting coach and accomplished local voice teacher, Roth is a MAT regular who has also appeared on local stages large and small from the Fine Arts Center to the intimate Springs Ensemble Theatre.

Harmonizing perfectly with Roth, Guzman is equal parts singer, dancer and comic actor. A Flagstaff native, he relocated to the Springs in 2014 with academic and career goals. But he also found another home with the MAT, the Fine Arts Center and Theatreworks. His Sinatra-like crooning is not be upstaged by a roguish side:  in one act, Guzman sheds his button-up look and storms the stage as an enthusiastic holiday genie — as excited as his spandex will stretch!

A bit of the circus

Circus arts are center stage in Yule be Naughty Too. From acrobatics to silks, aerialist Elizabeth Fluharty dazzles a captive audience. An evolving comedic talent, her daring routines are sprinkled with frisky fun. Performing across the state, Fluharty also teaches classes and camps at Springs Dance and the MAT.

The show’s stunts continue with more acrobatic feats by Danni Maxwell and Jessica Weil, commanding aerial loops, silks, a hammock and the cube with awe-inspiring agility and grace. Whether solo, or in a clever trio of girl-on-girl interplay, Fluharty, Maxwell and Weil are amazing.

No drag in this show: Each act energizes the next as Dave Hale finally takes the stage for the show’s finale. A Springs native and 20-year veteran of circus arts from juggling to spinning fire, Hale astounds on springy peg stilts as the silent and downtrodden Crumpet, the only named character in the loose storyline. Relegated to sweeping the stage, Crumpet has been gifted a strange apparatus near the start of the show and it seems he’s been secretly practicing behind the scenes. He takes to the stage jumping and prancing his way out of his clothing (mostly, that is) no longer a shy elf in hiding.

“Yule be Naughty Too” ends with the MAT’s traditional on-stage dance party, patrons shimmying their way stage left to the exit. Now warmed with holiday punch, goodies and naughty thoughts, perhaps the party continues at home! And that’s just the happy ending the MAT gifts you in this not-to-be-missed holiday show.