BWW Reviews: Metrostage whirls audiences into holiday spirit with A BROADWAY CHRISTMAS CAROL
Holidays always meant two things in my family: New York City and sitting through some version of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol." I am sure I am not the only one to have seen perhaps an embarrassing amount of the Christmas miser throughout the years.
Somehow, Metrostage's "A Broadway Christmas Carol" proves to be an exception to the endless litany of Dickensian themed Christmas tradition. This production was not just a retelling of a timeless literary classic, but a highly entertaining show to help ring in the holiday season.
The concept is simple: playwright Kathy Feininger took Charles Dicken's "Christmas Carol" and laced it with the tunes of famous, Broadway musicals. The words were adjusted to fit the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, often making the occasionally serious and even unsettling songs into tunes with which the audience could laugh along.
The production would be nothing, however, without the work of the four cast members: Peter Boyer (Scrooge); Russell Sunday (The Man Who Isn't Scrooge); Tracey Stephens (The Woman Who Isn't Scrooge); and Howard Breitbart (The Man Behind the Piano, Music Director). Even when the songs took a turn for the unbearably cheesy, the performers carried on sometimes even laughing along with us, turning every uncomfortable moment into a joke. Their musical talents-from Breitbart's piano playing to the range and quality of the three actor's singing, especially Stephens's-were superb along with their comedic ability.
The set, originally designed by Allison Campbell, was as bright and cheerful as a Christmas present. The two doors and entryway covered by a curtain to resemble a stage curtain added a farcical element to this already silly production. Scrooge and the pianist remained on stage throughout the entirety of the show while the other two ran off and on stage in various costumes and wigs.
The company opens with parody of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum's "Comedy Tonight," with their own rendition called "A Broadway Christmas Carol Tonight," and that was only grazed the surface of the frankly silly song parodies that would ensue. Highlight songs for the evening include omages to Phantom of the Opera-during which I had to wipe away tears from laughing so hard; the Secret Garden; Sweeney Todd; and Annie. There are over twenty-five musicals represented throughout the show, however, giving every level of Broadway buff-from hard core musical fan to the spouse who was dragged to the show-something to relate to and laugh with.
For such a small theater, "A Broadway Christmas Carol" puts on a performance that is, excuse the cliche, larger than life. For those who, like I, will not get the chance to go to New York City this holiday season, Metrostage's "Broadway Christmas Carol" will feed you your fill of songs, dance and laughter-and then some.
"A Broadway Christmas Carol" will be playing at Metrostage from Nov. 21-Dec. 22, 2013. For further information, please go to http://www.metrostage.org.
Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Banks, Courtesy of Metrostage.
From This Author G. Blaise Hoeler