Saturday, November 30, 2019

Scrooge In Rouge—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland



          “What the Dickens…?!”

    This English Music Hall version of Dickens’s immortal classic of A Christmas Carol, has book and lyrics by Ricky Graham, original music composed by Jefferson Turner and additional material by Jeffery Robertson and Yvette Hargis.  The music direction and pianist is Beth Noelle and design and direction by producer, Donald Horn.  It is playing at their space in The Sanctuary, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (free parking lot to the West of the bldg..), through December 14th.  For more information, go to their site at www.trianglepro.org or call 503-239-5919.

    I have probably seen almost every type of film version of this classic story, plus many different types of stage versions, plus having adapted a stage version myself and written a modern radio version (The Last Christmas), directed a readers theatre version (w/Russ Fast as Scrooge) and even played Bob Cratchit myself early in my career, so you might say I’m fairly familiar with the material.

    But this is the first time I’ve seen a “camp” version of it done in vaudevillian-style with only three (very accomplished) actors, Dave Cole, (Scrooge, et. al.), Cassi Q. Kohl (Christmas Past, et. al.), and Jeremy Anderson-Sloan (Christmas Present, et. al.) playing (almost) all the roles, with the ample assistance of Noelle and an unnamed audience member filling the roster.

    And how do they do it, playing at least two dozen roles (with as many costume changes) and keeping it all “straight?”  The answer is…they don’t…and that is the magic and joy of it (and, perhaps, the Season), to work together, to have fun, to complement each other, and make this dreary world a little brighter, perhaps, for us for a couple of hours!

    I’m assuming all of you must know the basic story by now.  But, to give a thumbnail sketch, Scrooge is a miser, a money-lender by trade, who treats everyone around him like dog-do, even his jolly nephew, Fred, and his poor clerk, Cratchit.  But redemption may be on its way, as the ghost of his old business partner, Marley, warns him of the consequences of continuing in this fashion.  He is to be visited by three spirits from his Past, the Present, and a time Yet-To-Come, so that he gets a clearer understanding of the world around him and its creatures.  And so, he is transformed, not because he was an evil man but because he is a good man that has just gone astray for a long while.

    The music and lyrics are quite engaging and the costumes, a work of art.  Horn can do it all and do it brilliantly.  Noelle is a marvel as a musician, as well as adding to the merriment (also a very accomplished performer herself!).  And the Cast—WOW!  It must have been a nightmare in rehearsals, keeping everything on track.  Cole gives us a more mellow Scrooge and it works wonderfully in this atmosphere.  He sings, acts and jokes with glee and it all works in this setting, where the fourth wall is broken constantly.

    Anderson-Sloan gives us all the camp one can endure, especially in the female incarnations of Mrs. Fezziwig, Fred’s wife and the naughty Christmas Present.  His musical renditions are quite clever.  And Kohl almost steal the show with her very animated antics, vocal variations, and madcap dances and movements.  She is a pixie that flits around the stage, as if she owns it and is a real pleasure to watch every time she’s onstage (which is most of the time).  I would see her in anything and hope this is not the last time she’ll be performing here.

    I recommend this show but it does have some rude humor, if that offends you.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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