For anyone tired of the ‘same old, same old’ holiday offerings, or others looking for something to add to the tradition fare, A Broadway Christmas Carol is a joyous and wonderfully wrapped holiday treat.
Clever and silly fun, MetroStage’s fourth annual presentation of A Broadway Christmas Carol is a total delight. A Broadway Christmas Carol, conceived by Kathy Feininger, is directed and choreographed this year by Michael Sharp (who had starred as Scrooge in other productions of the show). Janine Sunday’s costume design and Allison Campbell’s set are filled with colors of the holiday season and are often very hilarious.
This retelling of Charles Dickens’ popular tale through the use of send-ups of famous songs from Broadway walks the fine line between effortful restraint and falling into pure pandemonium. At times, the players appeared to use all of their willpower to keep from laughing with delight along with the audience.
Peter Boyer (Scrooge), Russell Sunday (The Man Who Isn’t Scrooge), Tracey Stephens (The Woman Who Isn’t Scrooge) and Howard Brietbart (The Man Behind the Piano) all played their roles with aplomb. Stephens made her first grand entrance in a parody of “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity. Her multiple appearances as different characters, all of whom wore outrageous red undies, showed vocal and comedic mastery, which added a special dimension to the hilarity of the show, especially while watching her many flash-fast costume changes.
‘I’m in The Money,’ performed by Peter Boyer, was his grand entrance as Scrooge. If not for his farcical facial antics, one could have begun to hiss at his meanness. “I’m in The Money,” a parody of “We’re in the Money” from 42nd Street established his nasty nature with a little twinkle shining through.
‘Tomorrow,’ sung by Russell Sunday, acting as Tiny Tim, drew the most laughs from the audience. It showed Sunday’s range from serious strong tenor to a goofy little boy brought to life through a sweet falsetto and the constant harassment by his parents to ensure that he stayed in his role as a poor cripple.
Howard Breitbart, (The Man Behind the Piano) and talented musical director, mostly stuck to his piano duties until the second act’s rendition of ‘The Phantom of Christmases Yet to Come’ – a parody of the title song from from The Phantom of The Opera when he joined in the gaiety, complete with the famous Phantom mask and later aided by the a skeleton arm. “Phantom” was one of my favorite pieces that involved the entire cast.
The use of puppets to portray the Crachiet kids showed the versatility of both the creator and actors. But this performance was more than a comedy. Each actor had an amazing voice and personality to match, especially Peter Boyer whose beautiful tenor was heard in “Send Him Home,” a parody of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables.
While many audience members will instantly remember the famous tunes, the program is quite helpful in providing the well-known musical theater source for each of the songs — all 32 of them.
The cast’s rendition of ’S-C-R-O-O-G-E,’ set to a rather frantic version of the title song in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Oklahoma!, brought the evening to a rousing and festive close.
Running Time: Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
A Broadway Christmas Carol plays through December 22, 2013 at MetroStage — 1201 North Royal Street, in Alexandria, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 548-9044, or purchase them online.