Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



It’s festive funny physical family-friendly fun as these Three Wise Guys send-up and celebrate your favorite winter holiday traditions in the new comedy The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) , starring the Reduced Shakespeare Company®, written and directed by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, receiving its East Coast Premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, November 25 – December 18, 2011. Subscriptions and individual tickets are available online at or by calling 978.654.4MRT.

Having reduced the history of America, the Bible, the world of sports and more, the three fruitcakes of the Reduced Shakespeare Company® return to MRT to take you on an irreverent but heartwarming trip through the holidays and Christmas will never quite be the same.

LEARN! How Santa saved Christmas!
SING! The Ultimate Reduced Christmas Carol!
CELEBRATE! Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Saturnalia!
CRINGE! At the origin of the term “Nutcracker!”
MEMORIZE! New lyrics to “The 12 Days of Christmas” with iPads, not Lords A Leaping!
GASP! At the shocking history of our best-loved Christmas traditions!

The cast of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) features Reduced Shakespeare Company® members Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor and Matt Rippy. Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor are co-authors of The Complete World Of Sports (abridged), Completely Hollywood (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged), All the Great Books (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), which have all played at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in past seasons. Reed Martin appeared in all four of those productions, while Austin Tichenor appeared in The Complete World Of Sports (abridged), Completely Hollywood (abridged) and The Complete History of America (abridged). Matt Rippy, an RSC member since 1996, returns to Merrimack Rep for the second time. He has also played in The Complete World of Sports (abridged).

“We’re thrilled to return to MRT for our fifth visit in ten years, and this time for the holidays,” says playwright and actor Austin Tichenor. “We know that time is short around the holidays, that’s why we set out to create the only Christmas show you’ll ever need to see. We’ll put the ‘reverence’ in ‘irreverence’!”

“I saw a workshop of the production in California earlier this fall and I have to tell you, it’s very, very funny!” Artistic Director Charles Towers reported, “The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) may not be for the strictly pious, but it is for everyone else who likes a good-natured laugh during the holidays. We are especially fortunate to have the writer/performers Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor performing their newest creation, because they can deliver, and improvise, like no one else. Come November 25, it will be time to Deck the Halls with Gales of Laughter – Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha!”

Since its 1981 origins as a pass-the-hat act in California, the Reduced Shakespeare Company® has created seven stage shows, two television specials, several failed TV pilots, and numerous radio pieces – all of which have been performed, seen and heard the world over. The company’s itinerary has included stops at the White House, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s West End, Seattle Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre and Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, as well as performances in Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, Belgium, The Netherlands, Singapore and Bermuda – plus countless civic and university venues throughout the USA, Great Britain and Ireland. The RSC won the prestigious Shorty Award and has been nominated for an Olivier Award in London, two Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC, the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, and several podcast awards. RSC scripts are published in the US and UK, and translated into over a dozen languages.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2011-2012 season is sponsored by Lowell Bank. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) has received additional support from WODS 103.3.


REED MARTIN (Writer/Director/Actor) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: The Complete World Of Sports (abridged), Completely Hollywood (abridged), All the Great Books (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged), The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). Reed Martin is a graduate of UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, The Bill Kinnamon School of Professional Umpire Training, and Clown College. He has performed in forty-six states and eleven foreign countries, including New Jersey. Prior to joining the RSC in 1989, he was a clown with Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus where he spent two years frightening children and smelling of elephants. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two sons, all three of whom are much funnier than he is. Reed feels strongly that toilet paper should be fed over the top of the roll.

MATT RIPPY (Actor/Webmaster) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: The Complete World of Sports (abridged). Matt ran away with the RSC in ‘96 and has appeared with them in the West End and (near) Broadway as well as various tours around the globe. Rippy acts as the Reduced webmaster and from time to time he acts as director. Sometimes he even acts like a real actor in movies: he acted like a bad guy in Day of the Dead, a good guy in Boogeyman 3 and a blink-and-u-miss-me in The Dark Knight. He also acted on TV as a confused WW2 pilot in Torchwood. Rippy knows one day he must act like a grown up, but until then he’ll just keep hanging out with the Reduced Shakespeare Company®. See more and learn less at

AUSTIN TICHENOR (Writer/Director/Actor) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: The Complete World Of Sports (abridged), Completely Hollywood (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged). Austin Tichenor wrote the screenplay All The Other Reindeer with his wife, Tewksbury-native Dee Ryan; Fowl Play (also with Dee, for Disney); and the irreverent reference book Reduced Shakespeare with his other wife Reed Martin. He’s also the former Associate Producing Director of New Hampshire’s American Stage Festival, has played recurring roles on 24, Alias, and The Practice, and guest starred on Nip/Tuck, CSI: Miami, The West Wing, and shows like them. Now living in Chicago with Dee and their two kids, Austin bats right and votes left.

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