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Christmas in Hell

From 14 critic and 102 member reviews
Members say: Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Great singing, Hilarious

About the show

A wild, irreverent, and surprisingly touching musical comedy about the absurd lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love. More…

Looking for a sweet, wholesome holiday musical? Well, this ain’t it! On Christmas Eve, little 8-year-old Davin is mistakenly taken down to Hell. When he returns, not only has he missed Christmas, but he is devilishly changed. To set things right, his father embarks on a bizarre odyssey that eventually leads him down to Hell itself where he makes a wager with Lucifer he can’t possibly win.

Front Row Center

“A delightful show that celebrates the holidays with tongue securely in cheek. It keeps you chuckling from start to finish, with catchy tunes, bright colors, and clever lyrics...’Christmas in Hell’ is happily and unapologetically theatrical...It’s lighthearted and effective...In the same spirit, the actors wring every drop of humor out of each lyric. They are clearly having a great time, which is 90% of what makes comedy work.” Full Review


"The holiday season is in for an irreverent satirizing in Gary Apple's musical comedy 'Christmas in Hell,' a rude and entertaining fable for adults. With book, music and lyrics by Apple, a writer/producer for television, the show now being produced by The York Theatre Company is a diverting antidote to all the mindlessly clichéd holiday cheer that is everywhere. With some clever lyrics, hummable tunes and a colorful cast of characters, 'Christmas in Hell' is a delightful little musical parody." Full Review

Nitelife Exchange

"Cute as hell. The music is delightful and the cast a wonderful dispenser of screwball antics. For those looking for a good time, the show is a kind of dark Disney diversion delivering a fun bauble of seasonal entertainment...But while, on the surface, 'Christmas in Hell' is swell, it isn’t all it could be...The powerful themes and ideas are hobbled by a lack of focus, which prevent them from coming together in a rich, cohesive whole." Full Review

Says Me Says Mom

“Not your average holiday show...The show is pretty funny and surprisingly touching at times...The songs are unique and eccentric...Although some parts of the show don't seem to make sense or lack consistency, over all, it is a crazy and fun ride It is the anti-Christmas show and yet, it is also the perfect show for the season because ultimately it is about love and family and the bond between a father and son.” Full Review

Splash Magazines

"'Hell' aims to dive low and come up kicking, making spot-on connections between the underworld and such real live mortal threats as Sean Hannity. It’s also appealingly unafraid to invoke Oz-like sentiment in its refusal to grant everybody in its cast a beating, earthly heart...One sometimes wishes the musical had had the faith to pursue more complex and meaningful choices. However, there is plenty on the York stage at present to joyfully defeat the cruelest, most moribund fruitcake." Full Review


“The comedy musical, ‘Christmas In Hell’...bringing plenty of laughs from the crowds with ridiculous musical numbers all done with a live band...While the tale is funny, with hilarious songs...the musical isn't only here for a good laugh. It deals with family, especially the tight bond a child has with his father. In the midst of all the silliness, this show presents a solid understanding of unconditional love and the lengths we go for those we care about the most.” Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"The rough and raw fringey show...still lacks theatrical refinement, with an unpolished tone that’s more in line with an extended SNL skit...Despite all of its dark humor, foul language, and sardonic views, 'Christmas in Hell' ultimately delivers an uncharacteristically sweet message of love...which comes just before its final FU to popular holiday traditions. So if you’re in the mood for giving the middle finger to all things seasonal, this just might be the show for you." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“A cheeky new addition to holiday theatrical offerings...The York deserves kudos for going out on a limb and pushing the envelope with this humdinger of a show...As quirky as it is, there are also touching moments...Although it starts as an edgy and irreverent piece, ‘Christmas in Hell’ has trouble securing its footing and comedic tone...Could be trimmed...Destined to become a perennial classic? Likely not, But it is a pleasant one that breathes fresh life into the standard Christmas story." Full Review

Manhattan Digest

“The story is silly but usually entertaining; the songs, cheeky, and often clever. The actors careen through this campy musical with dedication and gusto. There are some moments filled with less-than-inspired lyrics or dialogue, but there’s enough of oddball, quirky humor to make you chuckle throughout...For a breezy good time, check your expectations at the door and come see this not-so-wholesome holiday trifle.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Not that 'Christmas in Hell' doesn't have something going for it. Its score is catchy, its ensemble contains several standouts, its attempts at off-color holiday humor occasionally score, it has eye-catchingly amusing costumes…and wigs…and it gets a lively, over-the-top staging…'Christmas in Hell' is mildly enjoyable holiday nonsense but, at a bit less than two hours, it goes on too long and gets more laughs from its hard-working performers than its contents." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“A lightweight musical that’s more than a little naughty...An ode to an off kilter Christmas that gets wicked before it goes right...Despite Apple’s comedy writing background, there really aren’t enough laughs...The cast has a good time...Their enthusiasm goes a long way towards making up for the lackluster lyrics and thin story...’Christmas in Hell’ isn’t the most subtle or sophisticated of shows, but what holiday isn’t made better by giving the sacred an unholy kick in the ass?” Full Review

The New York Times

"A show must have a minimum of internal logic and some good tunes. 'Christmas in Hell' comes up short on both counts...Lucifer appears only in the second act, which is regrettable...Williams excels at portraying overconfident egomaniacs...A lot happens, none of it memorable except perhaps to dedicated fans of inept musicals...And so the show goes, stumbling from one scene to the next with no evidence of coherence, shoehorning songs that advance neither plot nor characterization." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Unfortunately, a fifty-five-year-old bakery item is fresher than some of the gags on offer here...'Christmas in Hell' pretends to be delightfully transgressive, but that's not pine cones and holly berries you smell, it's desperation...The best thing I can say about Bill Castellino's production is that it is filled with enthusiasm; this is especially true of the cast." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Although the York Theatre Company flashes a quality cast typical of its productions, the word cockamamie could have been invented to specifically apply to the book that Gary Apple has written for this musical. The actors work valiantly, but the story is so patently stupid that only occasionally entertaining numbers, for which Apple also has written music and lyrics, relieve the overall idiocy." Full Review

Refreshing, Thought-provoking, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you want to see an engaging play that involves a father's love for his son; if you want a different take on a Christmas story

Don't see it if if you don't like musicals; if you find certain 4 letter words offensive even if they are very funny in the story; if you aren't a maverick

Hilarious, Great writing, Great singing, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You dislike fruitcake. Very clever and funny. Gets the edge off Christmas shopping and stress. Great acting and singing. Little boy is

Don't see it if You have no sense of humor and are offended by profanity and jokes about fruitcake.

Also Wonderful and has a bright future on stage.

Quirky, Raunchy, Hilarious, Edgy, Clever

See it if you want to see a new show reminiscent in tone to Desperate Measures or to laugh your head off

Don't see it if you are easily offended by cursing or certain situations or don't have a warped sense of humor

Irreverent, Great singing, Funny, Entertaining

See it if you like musicals that make fun of Christmas

Don't see it if you consider Christmas a holy time, and don't appreciate a frog on a cross, even if it is in fun

Also Irreverent look at Christmas. Too much of the F*** word. But the music... Read more Read less

Quirky, Relevant, Funny, Great writing, Great singing

See it if You like fun musicals. With York Theatre you know it's going to be good, and it doesn't disappoint. Very enjoyable. Beware fruitcake!

Don't see it if Don't like fun musicals.

Quirky, Raunchy, Entertaining, Funny, Clever

See it if The plot is easy not too much to think, so its light and refreshing.

Don't see it if if you want a serious show, and one of the songs use the F work.

Also The Fruit Cake from Hell starts it off. Its is a funny play with silly... Read more Read less

Clever, Uneven tone, Quirky, Strong singing, Entertaining

See it if you'd like a musical comedy w a twist. A send-up of tradl holiday fare, CIH still imparts a sweet message. A wild ride from start to finish.

Don't see it if you dislike skewering of religion. CIH's funny, but some jokes fall flat/in bad taste. Great set, costumes, band. Hard-working talented cast

Entertaining, Creative, Quirky, Great singing, Hilarious

See it if you are looking for an enjoyable evening full of laugh out loud moments and completely enjoyable.

Don't see it if you are offended by religious themed comedies.

Also Although I enjoyed every second, this show is imperfect and still need... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Refreshing, Funny, Delightful, Clever

See it if you're up for a silly, raunchy, truly funny skewing of Christmas, religion, & a few other things we usually treat more earnestly. Fun!

Don't see it if an SNL sensibility rubs you the wrong way, you're offended by swearing, or you're more interested in traditional holiday fare.

Good singing, Campy, Entertaining, Raunchy, Funny

See it if You like campy musicals with occasionally raunchy songs.

Don't see it if You’re easily offended by naughty song lyrics.

Cliched, Refreshing, Quirky, Ambitious

See it if Goofy and wildly imaginative world that doesn’t take itself seriously and would be a fun detour for the family

Don't see it if Perfect example of how clever writing doesn’t always translates to a terrific performance. A little too tamed and silly to explore hell.

Also The “white lady” was essentially useless

Irreverent, but funnily so., Great singing, Funny, Entertaining

See it if you want to hear some great singing, some clever lyrics and see a perfect cast. This is not for children however. The story needs work.

Don't see it if you are offended by the f-word; or making fun of religion. You expect a warm/fuzzy Christmas story, though its buried within.

Good acting, Irreverant, Good songs, Funny

See it if you like irreverant shows like The Book of Mormon

Don't see it if you prefer if you don't like shows that have a lot of inappropriate humor or deal with religious matters in irreverant ways.

Clever, Entertaining, Ambitious, Indulgent, Quirky

See it if You like great Christmas sweaters

Don't see it if You do not like ballet. Irina D is the best part of the show. Singing BY female cast gets overwhelmed by the music

Indulgent, Well staged, Well performed, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if you want something different for the holidays. Offbeat with some good performances. Fine set.

Don't see it if you'd like something traditional. Besides, this can use more work. Still, it's entertainingly silly .

Funny, Entertaining

See it if you like seeing veteran performers elevate mediocre music and lyrics, questionable concept and confusing plot into an entertaining evening.

Don't see it if material that tries to spoof religious themes connected with Christmas and satin worship and lyrics that rely on 4 letter words for humor.

Entertaining, Clever, Raunchy, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if York gives Apple's 'Hell' a top notch polished production although it's only an extended musical sketch Has funny moments w/ clever premise

Don't see it if Despite it's DIY/Fringe quality, Apple - book, music & lyrics - could have used another set of eyes (esp in music dept) Able cast works hard

Edgy, Dizzying, Clever

See it if you are looking for a show about Christmas, but don't have any sentimental attachment to the holiday whatsoever. Set is very clever.

Don't see it if Foul language and potty humor offend, especially at this time of year. It's irreverent, and unnecessarily so. Castellino kept it alive!

Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Banal

See it if you're curious about the title, to discover the work of a composer-lyricist-librettist, enjoy nonsense plots & overwrought characterizations

Don't see it if you like musicals with peppy numbers, memorable music & mature lyrics, don't like foul language & broad depictions of Satan & Charles Manson


See it if all of the other holiday-themed shows are sold out through the end of 2018.

Don't see it if you're expecting this one to align with the York Theatre's typically high caliber of stage offerings.

Also I'm a big fan of the dark side of holiday entertainment. American movi... Read more Read less

Dated, Disappointing, Fluffy, Raunchy, Quirky

See it if You like South Park, Book of Mormon or The Producers, but trying too hard to be funny and clever and not quite making it.

Don't see it if You didn't like The Carol Burnett Show. It's like a really loooooong musical parody on a comedy show that doesn't know when to stop.

Also Some good laughs and the music and lyrics were fun, but not as clever ... Read more Read less

Cliched, Mildly entertaining, Slow, Irreverent, Fluffy

See it if ur in the mood for a silly, unpolished, holiday-adjacent show that aspires to be South Park/Simpsons but lands more like middling SNL skits.

Don't see it if you've enjoyed York's typically reliable, high-quality productions & expect the same from this overlong, trite, awkward, unedited misfire.

Also Missing from the production credits: Set Design by Google Images.... Read more Read less

Slow, Quirky, Disappointing, Banal

See it if I love York Theater. They never disappoint until now. This was hell to watch. The humor was not funny. Poorly casted, bad script.

Don't see it if I thought this was going to be like a over the top Christmas story that was funny... so not funny and seemed amateurish. York what happened?

Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Banal

See it if If you want a show that tries really hard to be funny.

Don't see it if If you want a York, usual high quality production. If you want a good Christmas show.

Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if you love Christmas and off-colored humor. You need to be willing to not think to much into the plot and just laugh.

Don't see it if you are looking for a good musical. It was very disappointing and the jokes were not smart. Would not suggest for a serous theatergoer.

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