Given how 2020 has played out, we could all use a few laughs about now. Attending a traditional live comedy performance isn’t a viable option at the moment, but the inventive—and slightly warped—minds at The Groundlings Theatre & School have come up with the next best thing: a live holiday show you can stream from home.
The Groundlings Holiday Show: Online Edition, a virtual version of its annual holiday classic, begins at 7 p.m. PT Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 19. The performance is accessed through Zoom Webinar, with ticket buyers receiving a link prior to that night’s show.
We caught up with the show’s director, Leonard Robinson, to find out more about the experience.
Visit California: Looking back to pre-pandemic times, how does the Groundlings Holiday Show typically unfold?
Leonard Robinson: This show is not much different than past Groundlings Holiday Shows other than the incredible amount of tech and totally new on-camera format, and the fact that the actors are doing it all from home! Also, doing this year's show online via Zoom has allowed more main company members to participate live—through video submissions or surprise on-camera pop-ins.
VC: What’s the vibe of this virtual version?
LR: I've tried to keep the vibe of Holiday Show the same as the past. This is a very fun and light show that hopefully raises your spirits and makes you laugh.
VC: What was the thinking behind creating this virtual version?
LR: If there wasn't a global pandemic, statewide lockdown, and restriction on live performances at the theater, we would've never even thought to do a show virtually. The overall question was how long do we want to wait before we do another performance? The answer was…not long! We started off earlier in the year with live virtual improv shows; the next logical step was doing our signature live sketch shows. The response from the audiences has been overwhelmingly positive. We've even seen an increase in attendance from places like Canada, Australia, the UK, and even Vietnam. The global reach has been huge, not only for our live shows but for our classes, which are also selling out online.
VC: Without giving too much away, what should audience members expect for the price of “admission”?
LR: Audiences should expect to laugh! Not only from the comfort of their own home but also in the chat room. We've found that our audiences are loving the live interaction they can have with the rest of the audience—and cast—in the chat room. We also have a few sketches where we might ask an audience members to turn on their cameras and microphones so they can interact with our cast live. So, if you're watching, be prepared to join in the show.
Tickets for The Groundlings Holiday Show: Online Edition are $20 per household, with a $35 deluxe option available for two households (so you can watch with friends or family) that includes a free gift.