‘A Broadway Christmas Carol’ at MetroStage

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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 Howard Breitbart and technical direction by Jason Kznarich.

Tracey Stephens as Mae West. Photo by Chris Banks.
Tracey Stephens as Mae West. Photo by Chris Banks.

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 seamlessly. 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 on the piano by Howard Breitbart. Costume Designer Janine Sunday covers a broad spectrum with her styles; from traditional Victorian-era clothing 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 (Peter Boyer), a greedy old miser who is visited by three spirits, who hope to teach him the true meaning of Christmas. 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, singing in the opening number, “We mix with Dickens Broadway’s best pickins.”

The Man Who Isn’t Scrooge (Michael Sharp) and The Woman who Isn’t Scrooge (Tracey Stephens) take on multiple roles, such as 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. While the songs are outrageous, they are sung beautifully—each actor has a great voice, and Tracy Stephens, shows off an incredible range.

Peter Boyer as Scrooge.  Photo by Chris Banks.
Peter Boyer as Scrooge. Photo by Chris Banks.

Musical Director Howard Breitbart 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” from Beauty and the Beast, among 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 by Mr. Sharp, no doubt). 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! The actors tease each other (and sometimes the audience!), and the effect is contagious.

While Broadway enthusiasts would have the best time at this show, you do not need to have knowledge of the plays 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!

A Broadway Christmas Carol is pure holiday joy and silly fun – and I enjoyed every second of it! For an evening of non-stop entertainment and laughs, I highly recommend A Broadway Christmas Carol at MetroStage.

Running Time: Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

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A Broadway Christmas Carol plays through December 28, 2014 at MetroStage — 1201 North Royal Street, in Alexandria, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 548-9044, or purchase them online.