Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
A Broadway Christmas Carol
Also see Susan's review of The Sound of Music
Kathy Feininger created A Broadway Christmas Carol in the late 1990s for Round House Theatre in Maryland, which presented it for seven consecutive years. Now MetroStage in Alexandria, Virginia, is presenting it for the second time, and it's a perfect fit for the theater that succeeded so well with The Musical of Musicals.
Stage adaptations of Charles Dickens' story of Ebenezer Scrooge are an unavoidable part of the Christmas season. What Feininger has done is to retell the story in a lighthearted format, using a cast of three, plus a pianist, and adaptations of both familiar and more esoteric show tunes. From Oklahoma! to The Phantom of the Opera and from Guys and Dolls to Godspell, this charming show has something to entertain every show tune fan.
Michael Sharp plays Scrooge and also directed and choreographed the current production, never allowing the energy to flag. Unlike more typical portrayals, he offers a Scrooge who at first takes open pleasure in his greed and selfishnessindeed, he introduces himself to the tune of "We're in the Money"but he makes the same psychological journey as in every other version of the story.
The other hard-working performers are Matthew A. Anderson as "The Man Who Isn't Scrooge" and Tracey Stephens as "The Woman Who Isn't Scrooge," assisted by Elisa Rosman as "The Woman Behind the Piano." For a few examples, Stephens flirts with Scrooge as the charity worker seeking donations for the poor, incarnates Jacob Marley in a surprisingly voluptuous way, tap dances a la Baby June as Scrooge's sister, and portrays Belle, Scrooge's lost love, with Coke-bottle glasses and a thick Brooklyn accent. Anderson is a sweet-natured Bob Cratchit, a Tiny Tim with hitherto unsuspected resentments of those around him, and many other characters.
Of course, the main pleasure of this production comes from identifying the theater in-jokes and references, as well as one or two visual puns and the timely intrusion of puppets (cue the song from Avenue Q). Rosman never misses a beat at the piano, also getting her own acting role in the second act.