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Get Your Biennial Santa Stiffy With the Loush Sisters at Cleveland Pubic, Er, Public Theatre 

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Photo by Steve Wagner

Grab your balls, Ben Wa or otherwise, and prepare yourself for another dip into the jazzy, jizzy pool of double entendres and song fragments that is the Loush Sisters franchise at Cleveland Public Theatre. Warning: A drink or two, or five, might help this experience go down more easily.

Yes, the woozy-boozy gals are back in their latest biennial stagger across the CPT stage, this time in a supposed parody of the greatest Christmas film ever, Die Hard. In this case, the always over-written, sex-referenced title is, The Loush Sisters Get Hard for the Holidays (Yippie-Kai-Yay Mother-Loushers).

The show is created by the trio of Beth Wood (director) and Liz Conway, each of whom perform on stage respectively as sisters Holly and Jolly, and Michael Seevers Jr., who is also the associate director, music director and choreographer. It's not really a satire of the iconic and much-loved Bruce Willis film, but rather the sisters' seedy cabaret act with their orgasmic explosion of pop, rock and Christmas song fragments.

On top of this are thrown various pulled threads from the first Die Hard movie, none of which stitch together with much clarity as the show reels from one schtick and sniggering sex joke (heh, heh) to another. From the moment early on when the always entertaining Conway coughs up a pubic hair, an observer who is new to this act might get the sense that this is not gong to be an evening imbued with subtlety. Indeed, instead of "getting hard" with edgy comedy, the script is often shooting pool with a rope.

That's just fine for most of the audience members, some of whom are attending in festive holiday groups. They're just looking for an excuse to over-imbibe, hang some mistletoe from their "It Ain't Gonna Lick Itself" belt buckle, yell at the stage, and get it on for Santa. Indeed, the whole purpose of this show is to bypass functioning brain matter and directly attack the viewer's inner fifth grader, who laughs uproariously at the mention of dick or boobs.

Jolly's co-lead perv-former Holly is played by Wood (heh, heh), and the two work seamlessly together, since they've been doing some version of these characters for many years now. In the two most recent iterations, the creators hooked the Loushes (it's a combination of "lush" and "loose," as they repeatedly inform us) to other holiday-ish shows. In 2013, it was The Loush Sisters DO The Nutcracker (wink, wink), and in 2015 it was The Loush Sisters Love Dick'ns: Great Expectations (nudge, nudge).

The lead women are aided by perennial co-stars Brian Pedaci and Sheffia Randall Dooley. This time, Pedaci is the Hans Gruber-like villain Krampus ("the Austrian demon of Christmas") and Sheffia Randall Dooley, as always, is Butter Rum, who's now a stand-in for John McClane, out to rescue her sisters from Krampus' clutches. Pedaci looks rather dashing wearing horns and hooves to remind us that he's, you know, the bad guy. And the sisters seem only mildly distressed when he takes them hostage, since they're rather turned on by the gold handcuffs.

There are also four "Minions" (Ryan Edlinger, Brian O. Jackson, Colleen McCaughey and Hillary Wheelock) who vainly attempt to capture that cartoon flick's vibe while serving as Krampus' operatives. What happened to Karl, the deadly blonde Germanic killing machine?

Another character that fails to generate enough zazz is Karla, Krampus' partner in evil played by Jennifer Woda. Woda is there mostly for her well-trained voice, since her attempts at looking or sounding threatening go limp. But you won't care since you'll be starting on your fourth glass of wine by that time, and everything will be taking on a hazy holiday glow. You won't even care when a distressed Holly admits that, "I was covered in what I thought was my own sweat!" (Heh, heh.)

Anyhow, Dooley's Butter Rum sings like Tina Turner and manages to rescue the dynamic duo of Holly and Jolly, complete with trademark McClane moves: body rolls and walking barefoot through broken glass.

The show ends with a Christmas medley, including that line from "Oh Holy Night:" "Fall on your knees ..." (heh ... oh, never mind). By that time, you will have forgotten that a lot of the jokes fall flat due to dated references or just a lack of wit. You won't care that they never do a song from start to finish. And you won't even notice that the sisters aren't given a dazzling costume change after the intermission. (Hey, screw story logic, give the girls some more dazzling duds!)

Since these shows serve as a well-deserved cash cow for CPT, there certainly will be more in the offing. Will they decide to do parodies of stage classics? Perhaps Schlong Day's Journey Into Night, or The Magic (Skin) Flute, or Of One-Eyed Trouser Mice and Men. The mind reels.

If you're out for a good time and you're not a stickler for theatrical niceties such as coherent plot development and consistently clever writing, Conway and Wood will no doubt trigger your holiday laugh boner. On the other hand, if this show fails to give you a nipple chubby or a trouser Nazi, it will certainly provide ample reasons to drink excessively. It's a win-win.

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