FSLT finds joy in ‘wacky tacky’ chaos of Christmas season

FSLT finds joy in ‘wacky tacky’ chaos of Christmas season

The best holidays, says FLST performer Anthony Yates, are always the ones that aren’t perfect — “the ones where something unexpected happened that broke everyone out of their seriousness and grew into a thunderous laugh as everyone let go of their expectations and just enjoyed being together.”

“‘Wacky Tacky’ is that unexpected moment.”

Yates is talking about the Fort Smith Little Theatre’s “Wacky Tacky Christmas Spectacular,” on stage for three nights only Dec. 14-16.

“Unlike traditional Christmas shows, ‘Wacky Tacky’ offers a lot of surprises — along with a lot of laughter,” performer Jane Ann Short explains. “This is the fourth ‘Wacky Tacky’ over 11 years, and each has been unique. Sometimes each performance is unique! What I love most is the mix of people. There are always a few familiar faces, but there are always lots of new people. That’s what makes it a lot of fun.”

The FSLT tradition was born in 2012, when Shannon Stoddard was asked to direct a Christmas offering and “didn’t have a scripted show in mind.”

“I had just come off doing another Christmas variety show at FSLT which had it’s own ‘wacky tacky’ flair, but that wasn’t the goal of the show,” she remembers. “I had joked backstage multiple times that we should do a show that is purposely wacky and tacky and just lean into the chaos of Christmas. This Christmas show slot I was offered was the perfect opportunity to try my idea, and I presented it to the Production Committee — and thankfully they decided to trust me and let me run with it.

“I had also been participating in an improv troupe with Wesley Fox and got him to come on board to help me collaborate,” Stoddard remembers. “I reached out to Debbie Carney about choreographing, and she jumped at the idea as well. We also needed [hosts] to experience ‘Wacky Tacky’ with the audience, and Jane Ann Short and Anthony Yates have been great sports about just jumping into the chaos each year!

“Eleven years later, and there’s no other production team I’d rather work with on this series of Christmas shows,” Stoddard adds. “‘Wacky Tacky’ is a true team effort.”

It’s the people that make every year different and delightful, she puts in.

“Eleven years is a long time to work with a group of people. The fact that cast members want to keep returning to be a part of this process means the world to me! It’s like a little ‘Wacky Tacky’ family … and like all families, it is nice to reunite for the holidays.”

Yates says it’s impossible to pick the most memorable “Wacky Tacky” moments, but he suggests a couple — “The 12 Guys of Christmas” and “Five Golden Rings.”

“For me personally, my favorite was when Tony and I turned ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ on its head, making the female the pursuer rather than the pursued,” Short says. “All’s fair! I can’t wait to see what this season’s favorite will be.”

“Overall my favorite memory each year is seeing someone new from the community using this show as their first steps into community theater,” Yates says. “It’s like a trial by tinsel. Once they survive ‘Wacky Tacky,’ they can do anything.”

“Each year I think to myself ‘this is going to be the final “Wacky Tacky,” so it needs to be the biggest and best,” Stoddard concludes. “And then a few years later I’m missing it and get the crazy idea to get the gang back together for a reunion. I mean, we’ve already been talking about ‘The Wacky Tacky Christmas Extravaganza’ being a great title for the fifth installment, and there’s been jokes about a ‘Wacky Tacky On Ice.’

“So, you’ll just have to wait and see. But I don’t see this being the end of ‘Wacky Tacky’ at all.”



‘A Wacky Tacky Christmas Spectacular’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14-16; doors open at 6:45 p.m.

WHERE — Fort Smith Little Theatre, 401 N. Sixth St.

COST — $7 at the door; no reserved seating

INFO — fslt.org

Categories: Theater