Christmas at the Shadowbox this year might be a little less raucous than usual, but the 18th incarnation of the sketch troupe's annual Holiday Hoopla show is no less enjoyable - and it's still a treat best enjoyed by adults.

Christmas at the Shadowbox this year might be a little less raucous than usual, but the 18th incarnation of the sketch troupe's annual Holiday Hoopla show is no less enjoyable - and it's still a treat best enjoyed by adults.

There's enough panty flashing and double entendres to keep things on the mature side, though some just plain silly sketches are blended in nicely.

In that category, maybe the best example is "The Firstest Christmas," a pageant written and produced by a group of third-graders. Because their teacher (Julie Klein) never actually saw the show before presenting it, it not only features Mary and Joseph, but also cameo appearances from Santa Claus, Rudolph, the three ghosts from A Christmas Carol and the Grinch, who can't find any more room at his inn for the couple.

Klein has to put up with another juvenile group in "Figgy Pudding," when her frustrated choir director must deal with an uncooperative bunch of singers who won't go until they get some of the title treat.

A little more offensive - but in a good way - is "Sneak a Peek 2K9," a Christmas movie preview show hosted by Shelley (Klein again) and John (David Whitehouse). Things take an uncomfortable turn when John learns his announcer (Andrew Cioffi) is Jewish.

The sketch-stealer of the show is Amy Lay, who plays a brilliantly insane version of Paula Abdul in "American Top 40: The Christmas Countdown 2K9." Abdul is co-hosting the show with straight man Casey Kasem (Jimmy Mak), and as pop acts sing their new holiday songs, Abdul keeps getting a little distracted by her own non-sequitur thoughts.

The musical half of the show seems tighter than usual, perhaps because it doesn't take as many risks in its selection of holiday rock and pop songs. Many of the choices are actually classics returning from years prior, including the show opener (coincidentally, also the best song of the night) "Children Go Where I Send Thee." Joined by Lay, Stephanie Shull and Jerrod Roberts on backup, Klein once again amazes in her powerhouse version of the Natalie Merchant tune.

Other song highlights include Mary Randle's "Back Door Santa," Noelle Grandison's soulful "Silent Night," Jennifer Hahn's "Christmas in America" and Lay's "Oi to the World," which closes out the first act in typical Shadowbox fashion - with an accompanying dance number.

As they have since the first Holiday Hoopla, the Santa Babies (Klein, Shull and Katy Psenicka) wrap up the show. Hot off a tour of Wal-Mart openings and K-Mart closings, the tacky lounge act mixes their holiday tunes with a lot of inappropriate moments. Holiday Hoopla just isn't complete without the Babies, and once again, they deliver a crowd-pleasing act that hasn't worn out its welcome.