By Troy Hasselman, December 11 2019 —
Naughty… but Nice!, the acclaimed holiday-themed musical revue for grown ups from Calgary’s own Forte Musical Theatre, has returned for its sixth year, with this year’s edition called Naughty… But Nice: Six in the City.
“Naughty… But Nice is a musical theatre review,” explains Naughty… But Nice musical director and Forte Musical Theatre artistic director Joe Slabe. “They’re all original holiday tunes about our relationship with the holidays — the good, the bad and the ugly. This is its sixth year and we change it up a bit every year, there’s a few songs that we bring back and we always have something new too. There are 21 songs this year and five of them are new for the show.”
Since it first premiered six years ago, Slabe notes that the work has focused more on the naughty side of the coin with the material becoming more adult-oriented as the years have gone on with songs like “Pimp My Tree” and “Santa’s My Daddy” part of the show.
“It’s gotten naughtier,” Slabe says. “You still have to celebrate the season but it still comes with more expectations. The first year it was about 50-50 naughty and nice, but this year it’s about 75 per cent naughty and 25 per cent nice.”
This year’s production premiered on Dec. 6 at the Lunchbox Theatre to a sold out crowd and enthusiastic response. This adds to the already considerable acclaim the production has received over the years, including three Calgary critics’ awards and the Betty Mitchell award for outstanding Production of a Musical.
“It’s been great,” Slabe says. “The crowds have been enthusiastic, we sold out our opening night. THis week is looking very full. It’s mostly limited seating for the rest of this week except for Wednesday and the final week usually sells out. It’s been building. We actually have a slightly longer run this year, two-and-a-half weeks.”
This year, an album of original cast recordings was also released with 17 of the most popular songs from Naughty… But Nice’s six year run included. A music video was also made for the song “Pimp My Tree,” which is available to watch on YouTube.
In the future, Slabe hopes to see Naughty.. But Nice performed in cities around the world, while still being performed in Calgary. He sees the success of the play as emblematic of the creativity that is happening in the city and shows Calgary to be a place that can be an artistic hub.
“I feel like it’s a show that would be enjoyed in other cities too,” Slabe says, “We’ll continue to do it here, but I’d love to see a production in Toronto, Vancouver or New York because I think the writing is so smart and so sharp and there’s a lot of great creativity going on in Calgary and Alberta. I’d say it’s not something that we’re known for nationally but we have amazing artists here. I’d like to see exporting our culture and creativity to be one of the directions that we go in the future and not be so reliant on our traditional industries.”
Naughty… But Nice: Six in the City runs at the Lunchbox Theatre until Dec. 22, with performances at 8 p.m. every night except Dec. 16. There will be a 3:00 p.m. matinee on weekends as well. Tickets are available through the Lunchbox Theatre website.