Holiday Season Is Played For Laughs In 'Mrs. Bob Cratchit'

"God Bless Us, Every One!"  Yes, it is Tiny Tim speaking, but this is not a production of A Christmas Carol.  For in this production, Tiny Tim is played by a 26 year old Actor, and you have entered the decidedly off-beat world of Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge as presented by Richardson Theatre Centre.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit was commissioned by City Theatre in Pittsburgh and had its world premiere there in 2002.  It has since been performed by regional theatres throughout the country.  The play is written by Christopher Durang, who has had many of his plays presented Off-Broadway including Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You.  Durang also wrote the lyrics to the songs in the play, with the music being composed by Michael Friedman.  Mrs. Bob Cratchit is a wild parody of A Christmas Carol, with references to It's a Wonderful Life, Oliver Twist, and The Gift of the Magi.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit is filled with huge laughs.  Erik Archilla's performance as Tiny Tim brought down the house.  All he had to do was to cock his head to one side with a sheepish grin as he delivered his lines and the audience was captivated.  He kept the dialogue funny and fresh through the use of quirky inflections in his voice and on target facial expressions.  Mr. Archilla's performance is truly sharp and notable.

Allison Pistorious also provided an excellent portrayal of Mrs. Bob Cratchit.  She seized Durang's witty dialogue like a bit between her teeth and tossed it back out like the sparkling jewels they were.  Miss Pistorious threw herself into her character with quiet abandon, and made certain that every possible laugh was squeezed out of every situation.  As Ebeneezer Scrooge, Jim Kuezner also did an outstanding job.  His facial expressions and comments as he watched the other characters were priceless.

Octavia Thomas did a fabulous job playing The Ghost.  In Mrs. Bob Cratchit, one actor plays all three spirits (Christmas Past, Christmas Present, Christmas Yet to Come).  Miss Thomas served as the narrator of the piece with pithy asides galore and displayed a truly notable voice in the musical numbers, especially in the song that opened the play, "It's Nearly Christmas."  Jack Birdwell also delivered quite a few laughs as Bob Cratchit.

Tom Parr IV has directed Mrs. Bob Cratchit with superior humorous invention.  Although the play is a parody, Mr. Parr has kept the various elements fused nicely together so we genuinely care about the characters and their droll situations.  Mr. Parr had more tricks up his sleeve than a magician.  The performance moved from one exceptional bit of staging to the next, with my favorite being the scene from The Gift of the Magi.

Mr. Parr also constructed the set, which made ample use of Richardson Theatre Centre's somewhat limited playing space.  Mark C. Guerra's costumes were as witty as any of Durang's dialogue and Kathleen Hamm provided spirited choreography.

Richardson Theatre Centre's production of Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge is a nice change for the holiday season.  If you're in a mood to sit back and laugh at some of the icons of familiar Christmas tales, then you will be have a truly enjoyable time at Mrs. Bob Cratchit.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge is presented by the Richardson Theatre Centre through December 16.   For more information, please visit their website.

Photo Credit:  Lise Alexander 

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From This Author Joseph Melnicoff

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