MetroStage presents Kathy Feininger’s A Broadway Christmas Carol, the classic Dickens tale retold through parodies of famous Broadway show tunes. Michael Sharp directs and choreographs this silly, riotous show, with musical direction by Jacob Kidder and Howard Breitbart.
Set Designer Allison Campbell utilizes a stage-within-a-stage construction, each framed with multicolored bulbs that are commonly seen on Broadway. This is helpful in isolating different facets of the show, and make the plot and musical numbers flow together clearly. A velvet curtain is framed by two doors, and different colored slats lend an art-deco feel to the setting. Lighting Designer Jessica Lee Winfield uses these Broadway lights in her favor, having them light up in different patterns along with the song-and-dance numbers, with live music provided on the piano by the Musical Director (which was Jacob Kiddler at my performance). “Wardrobe Mistress” Dannielle Hutchinson covers a broad spectrum with her styles; from traditional Victorian-era clothing such as long coats and top hats, to a variety of silly wigs, and even placing a character into a large cardboard box wrapped as a Christmas gift!
You probably know the story of Scrooge (Michael Sharp), a greedy old miser who is visited by three spirits, who hope to teach him the true meaning of Christmas and change his ways. However, what sets this production apart from all of the other renderings of A Christmas Carol (a holiday favorite amongst many venues) is the inclusion of Broadway parodies, changing the lyrics of famous show tunes to hilariously fit the plot.
The Man Who Isn’t Scrooge (Russell Sunday) and The Woman Who Isn’t Scrooge (Tracey Stephens) take on multiple roles, including Bob Cratchit, the visiting spirits, Belle, and many more, each with distinct characteristics, accents, and mannerisms. They switch from one to another seamlessly, and it is incredibly entertaining to see. While the songs are outrageous, they are sung beautifully – each actor has a great voice, especially Tracy Stephens, who shows off an incredible range.
Musical Director Jacob Kidder lends his own acting to the show as well, managing to recite witty lines and play the piano simultaneously. Specific music numbers include “So Long, Farewell” inspired from The Sound of Music, “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, and “Be A Pest” a parody of “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, amongst others. Lyrics are tweaked to fit the hilarious circumstances of the plot, including my personal favorite “Tomorrow” (from Annie) sung by a vengeful Tiny Tim, who is tired of being teased by the other school children (“Tomorrow! Tomorrow!…I’ll get ya, tomorrow!”).
The songs are paired with playful choreography, and the actors work off each other’s chemistry wonderfully (an effect of solid direction, no doubt), and have such a good time with each other that, at my performance, you could see them suppressing their own laughter at times! While most would see this as a negative thing, the effect was contagious, and made the experience even more intimate and enjoyable. This is a production that does not take itself seriously, even poking fun at its own expense at times, and this is what makes it such a big hit!
While Broadway enthusiasts would have the best time at this show, you do not need to have knowledge of the musicals that this show takes inspiration from to enjoy it. I myself did not recognize the origins of all of the parodies, but that did not stop me from laughing along with everyone else! The show is a silly one, and I enjoyed every second of it! Most holiday shows strive to fill you with a sense of comfort and warmth during the season, but what about laughs? That’s where this one comes in.
For an incredibly hilarious evening of entertainment, I highly recommend A Broadway Christmas Carol at MetroStage.
Running Time: Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
A Broadway Christmas Carol plays through December 23, 2012 at MetroStage – 1201 North Royal Street, in Alexandria, VA. Purchase tickets by calling (800) 494- 8497, or order them online.