BWW Reviews: Stray Dog Theatre's Quirky Production of THE BUTTERFINGERS ANGEL...
I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about The Butterfingers Angel, Mary and Joseph, Herod the Nut and the Slaughter of the 12 Hit Carols in a Pear Tree. I mean, for sheer title length it deserves some kind of acclaim. But, it's written by William Gibson. You know, the guy who wrote The Miracle Worker and Two for the Seasaw. So, I wasn't sure what to expect. And that's a good thing. Yes, it's kind of a mixed bag at best, but I have to applaud the efforts of Stray Dog Theatre for bringing it to my attention. It's definitely worth checking out.
Apparently, The Butterfingers Angel... was written at the request of Mr. Gibson's church, which may explain it's often uneven tone. It's basically a Nativity play, but embellished with talking animals and all sorts of peculiar characters and characterizations. It also has about a dozen Christmas carols, and some of them have had the lyrics tweaked in odd ways. It's just a nutty show that has unexpectedly inspirational moments.
Joseph Corey Henke is our guide of sorts as the Butterfingers Angel, and he does more than capable work in the role. John Reidy is terrific as the sly "Man in Grey" and, simply absurd as Herod the nut. Stephen Peirick does a nice job as Joseph, who's had a long-standing infatuation with Mary that, to this point, has gone unrequited. So, imagine his surprise when she finally acquiesces, then imagine his surprise again as he's told the reason for Mary's sudden need to be wed. Colleen Backer is perfect as the sharp-tongued Mary, muttering hilarious gems under her breath.
The supporting is also sharp and deserves recognition: Mitch Eagles, Olivia Light, Jan Niehoff, Ellie Lore, Andrew Kuhlman, Alyssa Ward, Ashley D. Alcamo, Sarajane Alverson, Grace Clark, Adam Rugo (also music director) and Kevin Connelly.
Gary Bell's direction manages to keep this crazy quilt from flying off in all directions, and for that alone he's to be commended. Tyler Duenow's lighting keeps everything sharply in focus, and simple scenic backdrop work of Matthew Stuckel (scenic design by Bell) keeps our attention on the actors.
If you're looking for something a bit funny and a bit inspirational then check out Stray Dog Theatre's unique production of The Butterfingers Angel... playing at the Tower Grove Abbey through December 21, 2013.