Adapted to the stage by

Brian Newell & Nick McGee

Directed by Brian Newell

DEC 6 -23
4pm & 8pm
12/15 & 22, 4pm & 8pm
Added mid-week shows
Thurs 19th & Mon 23th, 8pm
TICKETS $22.00
$12.00 Kids under 12
For ages 5 and up

“Catch this Christmas gem, fast becoming a local theater tradition.”

         -Eric Marchese, O.C. Register


Santa Claus kidnapped by Martians! Will the children on Earth have no toys on Christmas day? Only Hollywood could cook up such an absurd story and only the Maverick Theater would want to adapt it to the stage. This holiday season join Santa on a madcap adventure in outer space!

The show is performed with a light hearted “Saturday Night Live” style that is suitable for children and even cranky adults.

Orange County Register Review

‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians' is outlandish fun in Fullerton

Maverick Theater hits a bulls-eye with its parody of the 1964 kiddie fantasy, routinely ranked as one of the worst films of all time.



For the sixth consecutive year, Fullerton's Maverick Theater has unfurled its signature Christmas show, a parody of the 1964 B-movie "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians." While most seasonal stage productions are meant to warm the heart, this staging wants you to laugh yourself silly.

Considering producer-director Brian Newell's style, and his and Nick McGee's adaptation of Glenville Mareth's screenplay, are rife with "Second City"-like satire, the show succeeds in doing exactly that, taking merciless potshots at a god-awful kiddie flick that's routinely ranked as one of the worst films of all time.

Everything here is played for laughs, from the earnest Earth children who wind up aboard a Martian spaceship with Santa to the stylized, ultracivilized diction of the Martians and the gloriously tacky sets and props. This is total, unabashed kitsch, outlandishly funny for being so – and the more outlandish and over-the-top, the better.

The Maverick's cabaret stage space has been adorned with colored lights, wreaths and other holiday decorations that fit the season while setting the stage for the story, which takes place at Christmastime in 1964.

All things Martian are targeted for laughs, from the aliens' green skin and matching green apparel to their precise British delivery. The story revolves around Kimar (Robert Dean Nunez), head of the red planet's high council, and his two closest aides, Voldar (Nathan Makaryk) and Chormar (David Chorley). The plot is pushed along by Voldar's evil nature and his attempts to kill Santa and siblings Billy and Betty.

Though they don't have much stage time, three other Martians are focal points: Chochum (Ryan Young), an ancient, bearded, doddering old fool; Kimar's sublimely pretty wife Momar (Rene Andersen, alternating with three other actors); and Kimar's squeaky-voiced daughter, Girmar (Leah Feliciano).

The Martians aren't the only objects of ridicule. Siblings Billy (Jamie Scheel, alternating with Ryan Clark) and Betty (Katie Sapp) are mercilessly mocked – Billy for his bizarre get-up (propeller beanie, superhero cape, bowtie, suspenders, cowboy boots and sheriff's badge), Betty for her slushy, slobbery speech. One running joke has the adults unable to remember Betty's name, offering instead such off-the-wall monikers as "Bianca," "Beyoncé" and even "Barack."

Nunez is ideal for the role of Kimar. The actor's quirky persona and oddball delivery and body language are deliberately off-kilter, whether his emphasis of the word "ear" when saying "Earth" or his stutter-step fits of Martian laughter.

Makaryk revels in Grinch-like Voldar's deliciously evil nature as the Martian meanie delights himself with his capacity to thwart everything good and wholesome (he's even jokingly referred to as "Voldemort").

One can't imagine a better St. Nick than McGee. Unlike the clueless clod of the film, this Santa is bright and resourceful, yet also able to chuckle along with others, spoof himself and go with the play's self-referential, and often self-ridiculing, flow.

Scheel's bookish Billy and Sapp's freckle-faced Betty spoof dorky kids everywhere. Sapp also proves herself a quick-change artist by appearing as Mrs. Claus, who speaks in the round, plummy tones of all great thespians. Chorley's Chormar and Donny Van Horn's goofy elf Winky are gentle and lovable. Even the unseen Michael Keeney, alternating with two other actors in the role, makes the Martian robot Torg seem lifelike.

Newell and McGee have punched up Mareth's original screenplay, but they're helped immensely by the cast's ability to improvise, with many an ad-lib aimed at unsuspecting audience members. The jokes are dead-on, whether Santa's mistaking the Martians for "giant Gumby dolls" or a polar bear reference to past holiday-time Coca-Cola commercials.

Kudos, too, to the show's production design: Newell's sound and video schemes and design of the Martian flying saucer, Martian helmets and flight deck; Heidi Newell's fanciful costumes; Jim Book's lighting design and technical direction; Makaryk's "Captain Kirk" command chair; and the team that helped to build, install and operate every aspect of the show.

The set pieces and props are deliberately cheesy, with prosaic items like an ironing board, stationary bicycle and toilet plungers used as vital spaceship equipment, while Santa's workshops have the look and style of something by Rube Goldberg. Newell enhances the play's sense of the here-and-now through live video feeds that show bits of stage action in grainy black-and-white on a view screen over the spaceship's massive main entrance.

The style, tone and atmosphere of this clever version of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" is one of goofy good cheer – so treat yourself and your children to an afternoon or evening of well-deserved laughter and catch this Christmas gem, fast becoming a local theater tradition.

Published: Dec. 12, 2011




Published: Dec., 2007

Retro Wishes Come True

Santa Claus conquers martians, tramples Christmas spirit. Yay!


Creatures are stirring. Photo by Brian Newell. Attention, all alterna-parents: your Christmas wish has been answered. This year, your inner conflict of how to expose your child to mainstream holiday classics yet not subject yourself to a grueling rehash of A Christmas Carol or a Nutcracker enema is resolved: Take them to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

If the name sounds familiar, you probably caught this sci-fi holiday hackjob from 1964 on TV when you were a tot. You probably never wanted to catch it again—until now. Under the direction of Brian Newell, the Maverick Theater has unearthed this creature’s saccharine bones and rebuilt it into a retro-cool slapstick show. And the best part is that you can have a beer to get you through the slapstick parts, which would be all the ones your kid is splitting a gut over.

Here’s what you’ll get: men in giant, green, footied jammies and what appear to be helmets made from ruptured green dodgeballs and toilet-plumbing tubes, running around like buffoons between a makeshift flying-saucer cockpit and Santa’s toy shop while uttering beep-beep noises. (This is why you have that beer.) The Martians have decided to kidnap Santy Claus, you see, and whisk him away to Mars, where monotone green-bean children are in dire need of some ho-ho-ho, crying baby dolls and Tonka trucks. Two goofy earthling kids get caught up in the fray, of course, and Billy and Betty (Ryan Cram and Katie Sapp) are so incredibly dorky that you might think you’re having flashbacks from your own gee-whiz days. The foil of the plan is Mars’ own Mr. Grinch, Voldar (Nathan Makaryk, who walks off with everything but the set), as he attempts to blast Santa and the geek kids out of an airlock, but he’s eventually won over by the spirit of commercial excess and pretending that playing with broken toys is fun (the theme of this particular holiday extravaganza is not giving, but rather using your imagination to turn that lump of coal in your stocking into a Formula One race car).

Before the show, the giant telescreen above the Martian elevator gets you in the retro mood, with endless loops of ’60s toy commercials. The night I went, the audience was filled with sixth-graders, and all eyes were trained like lasers on those toys—the lad next to me even huffed to his pal, “I wonder if they still have cool toys like that—I’ve seen so many things that I want!”

And isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Wanting stuff? It’s heartwarming to know that tradition hasn’t died out, and even sweeter to know that today’s little munchkins can appreciate both the crappy films we had to endure, as well as the crappy plastic toys.



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