Between holidays and snowstorms, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts will welcome a different kind of storm—Storm Large. And yes, that is her given name.
The comedienne/singer/songwriter/playwright/actress/author/chef is returning to the Wood River Valley for the second year in a row. This time, she will bring her signature sense of humor, her biting wit and enthralling singing voice to take on what is simultaneously—and perhaps oxymoronically—the most joyous and most stressful time of year: the holiday season.
At face value, one might anticipate plenty of irreverence, in-your-face humor and general indiscretion. While those elements are mainstays of any Storm Large performance, the Holiday Ordeal offers much more than what may at first meet the eye.
The Holiday Ordeal is all about how best to navigate the difficulties and frustrations of the festive season while not compromising the magic and goodwill that make it such a special time of year to begin with.
“I call it the Ordeal as a universal nod to the conflict and complications, all the f---ing expectations, the potential broken-heartedness, the religious pressure to get Christmas or Hanukah or Kwanzaa or the solstice just right,” Large said.
Reflecting upon her own childhood—which was riddled with ups and downs and more than a fair share of turbulence—Large recalled the inimitable sense of hope generated by the holidays.
Large’s mother spent much of her life in mental institutions and her father “tried his best,” but poured much of his time and energy into his work as a kind of escape. Despite that, though, she said, “There were a couple of years in there when Christmas was magical.
“It’s a time when everything was suspended in this perfect childhood snow globe of a memory. I remember having a serious, absolute, 100 percent belief in magic and hope and redemption, forgiveness, second chances. When you’re the youngest of three kids and you didn’t really have a mom and you get a glimpse of that hope and belief—it’s stuck in my heart forever.”
In a show that echoes elements of a cabaret, Large will weave together songs, anecdotes and laugh-out-loud comedy with genuine insight and emotional resonance to spread some holiday cheer.
“I celebrate in the Ordeal, in music and comedy. I try to remind people of the exuberance of this childlike suspension of reality to believe that some dude shows up in the night to bring you s--- and he wants you to be good. Be good to yourself and to each other. These are the darkest nights of the year, but this spark of hope, love, light—and good humor—reminds the darkness it won’t win. Any amount of light can banish any amount of darkness.”
Those in good cheer or looking for a pick-me-up can come by the Argyros at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5, to help Storm Large banish the darkness. Tickets are available online at sunvalleycenter.org and range in cost from $54 to $98.
Unlike this newspaper, Large does not censor herself in the performance or just in conversation—she seemed to say f--- more than any other word during her interview with the Express. As such, those under 17 will not be admitted to the theater tomorrow night. The Center billed Large’s program as “not your mom’s idea of a holiday show,” though one presumes that might vary from mother to mother.
For adults with a wry sense of humor, though, this promises to be a night to remember, and one that will surely help put the seasonal cacophony into perspective.