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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hellcab



Playwright:  Will Kern


Venue:  Funky Little Theatre, 2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, CO.

Running Time:  1 hour 35 minutes (includes 15 minute intermission) 

Date of Performance:  Friday, December 18, 2015.  (Regional Premiere)

I’ve been retired for more than five years, but I distinctly recall the days when work was a four letter word.  Hellcab made me and probably a lot of others realize that our jobs are not as bad as they could be.  At least I’m wasn't a white guy driving a cab on the south side of Chicago.

Chicago has always had a reputation as a tough place; Al Capone and John Dillinger were not good neighbors.  Despite some serious gentrification, Chicago today still has a high rate of violent crime, and the south side is arguably no safer than when Hellcab premiered in 1992.  

Set on Christmas Eve, Hellcab is frantic, disturbing ride through the frozen Chicago cityscape, from the upscale Watertower Mall to the battlefield of the south side.  As a cross section of the city’s citizens hop in his cab, our cabbie (Roy Ballard) is confronted with a full panorama of humanity’s capacity for chaos.  It’s the season of joy, but if you’re riding the Hellcab, it’s also the season of genuine strife.

Ballard plays the cabbie as a sincere, respectable working guy stuck in a jungle of social outliers.  It begins with his first fares, an older couple, giddy with religious zealotry.  They try to convince the cabbie to go to church with them (“some things are more important than work”).  Kern bookends his script with his least offensive characters.  The religious couple in the first scene is harmless; his last fare of the night (Désirée Myers as a depressed architect) delivers a dose of sanity to a chaotic Christmas Eve. 

Director Chris Medina demands a lot of his cast; other than Ballard, all play multiple roles.  They respond with some stellar work.  Myers is compelling in the final scene, mourning the loss of her mother but carrying on as best she can.  Medina’s touch in the last scene is striking.  Before they part, Meyers reaches out takes Ballard’s hand.  They pause, holding hands for all to see.  The image is beautiful, connecting the back seat to the front seat, the black hand to the white hand.  It’s the image we need on Christmas Eve.  Healing hands, together, bringing some peace to the chaos.

Ellen Regina’s “distraught woman” role is striking.  She’s distraught because she has just been raped.  Regina is equal parts traumatized, violated, and vulnerable.  It’s a cringe worthy performance for all the right reasons.  Regina also play a drunk, horny attorney.  (Insert your own drunk horny attorney joke here.)  She tries to seduce Ballard, who is having none of it.  Ballard’s cabbie is well disciplined; Regina’s vampy drunk would not have any trouble getting most cabbies into the back seat with her.

Speaking of getting into the back seat for some naughtiness, that’s exactly what Girl #1 (Erica Erickson) and Girl #2 (Alicia Franks) do.  It’s one of the lighter Christmas Eve moments in Hellcab, and one that plays into a common cab fantasy.  Franks and Erickson seem to enjoy putting our cabbie in a difficult position, and Ballard is convincingly confused about how to handle his passionate passengers. 

Dante J. Finley’s roles are often a little too stereotypical (baby daddy, a pitiful boyfriend) for my tastes, but his X-Hat performance is a standout.  The X-Hat is a black baseball cap with a big white X on the front, a reference to Malcolm X.  Finley is taking some static from his white cab driver colleagues because he won’t pick up black customers.  It’s a stark reminder that prejudice is sometimes found where we least expect it.  Finley’s X-Hat is an empty gesture to one of the most influential and most controversial leaders of the 20th century civil rights movement.

Roy Ballard as the cabbie.
Of course, the one constant in the ever shifting cargo of Hellcab is the cabbie, Roy Ballard.  Ballard is riveting, constantly trying to make small talk with his riders, but always alert to the danger around him.  He glances over his shoulder, watches his rear view mirror, and tells us how much he hates his job.  We ride along with Ballard, wondering whether any of us will be able to finish this shift.  Ballard is a cabbie we would all want; he's compassionate and concerned.  He's a good guy in a bad situation, and he's got more courage than most of us could muster.

Recently, I had the “opportunity” to spend some spare time waiting in line at the El Paso county Citizen’s Service Center at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road.  Like Kerns’ Hellcab, you will meet a diverse cross section of the community there.  Single mothers with kids in tow.  Jobless men and women looking for work.  Spanish speaking folks trying to figure out how to register the used 10 year old Honda Civic they just bought.  It’s where democracy meets the bureaucracy, and it’s a perfect people watching place.  Try it sometime, even if you’re not there on business.  Just take a seat and spend a little time looking at the faces of your neighbors.  You might see them as the real people they are rather than the abstractions we fear.

All of which makes Hellcab one of the best produced and most profound shows I've seen yet at Funky Little Theater Company.  Hellcab is set in Chicago, but it could have been set anywhere. Wherever you go, there are homeless desperate souls in our midst who are victims of drugs, crime, and other assorted indignities.  We can ignore them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  They do.  Funky Little Theater’s Hellcab gave us a harsh Christmas message.  It’s some tough love, but it’s also a message we need to remember all year long.

The cast of Hellcab.

Pre/Post Show Dining Recommendation:

Rocco’s Italian Restaurant is easy to find; it’s in what used to be the Steaksmith location at Academy and Maizeland (3802 Maizeland Road).  We met friends there for dinner before the show at Funky.  It’s about a 15 minute drive to/from the theater, weather and traffic permitting.

The draft beer selection is small, but it’s a full bar and a decent wine list.  The menu includes a half order of the lasagna, which for me would be plenty.  We had the cheesy Italian garlic bread appetizer and split a pizza.  

Service was splendid.  Stephanie knew we had to be at Funky for a 7:00 show, and she made sure we made it on time. 

NOTES:

Hellcab is adult material.  It’s probably OK for mature teens, but PG-13 for the young teens.  There is ample free parking in front of the theater.

While Hellcab is strong stuff, it is somewhat dated.  There are no murders.  The citizens of the south side may look at Hellcab as the "good old days" for that reason.

For a variety of reasons, I was not able to attend Funky’s Hellcab until closing weekend.  This show closes on December 19, 2015, so if you missed it, well, you really did miss it.


PHOTO CREDITS Funky Little Theater & Jennifer Westrom/Faith Photography

CREATIVE TEAM:

Director:  Chris Medina

Stage Manager:  Luke Schoenemann

Producers:  Dylan McClintock/Chris Medina

Sound Design:  Will Sobolik

Costume Design:  Delaney Hallauer

Lighting Design: Chris Medina


CAST:

Cabbie: Roy Ballard

Other Cabbie, Crackhead, Girl #2, Some Girl, Scary:  Erica Erickson

Shopper, Stoner, Receptionist, Girl #1: Alicia Franks

X-Hat, Young Black Man, Baby Daddy, Boyfriend, Obnoxious Guy:  Danté J. Finley

Religious Man, Steve, Al, Homer, Intense Man, Southside Guy, Obnoxious Guy: Freddy McDaniel

Lawyer, Pregnant Woman, Shalita, Dispatcher, Architect:  Désirée Myers

Religious Woman, Looker, Drunk Woman, Distraught Woman:  Ellen Regina


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Scrooge's Christmas, A Christmas Carol

David Olson as Scrooge.


Playwright:  Ken Jones

Company:  Black Box Theatre Company

Venue:  Black Box Theatre, 1267 Pecan Street, Colorado Springs, CO.

Running Time:  1 hour 40 minutes (includes 15 minute intermission) 

Date of Performance:  Wednesday, December 16, 2015.

This Christmas season brought a bounty of beautiful Christmas shows to Colorado Springs.  From Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Fine Arts Center, to Stocking Stuffers at the Springs Ensemble Theater, and to A Tuna Christmas at the MAT, the holidays have an abundance of theatrical excellence to choose from.  

Now add to that list of outstanding shows Scrooge’s Christmas, A Christmas Carol (Scrooge’s Christmas hereafter) at the Black Box Theatre through December 23.  It’s an adaptation of Charles Dicken’s Christmas classic, sprinkled with an assortment of familiar a capella Christmas carols.

Scrooge’s Christmas is a delight, from David Olson’s animated and accurate portrayal of Scrooge to Nicholas Young’s exquisite Tiny Tim.  Olson has the gravitas and the acting chops to deliver a stingy, cantankerous Scrooge, a scary Scrooge, and a transformed Scrooge in all his glory.  Young (and he is VERY young at just 5 years old) sometimes goes off on a tangent, but he’s cute beyond belief.  He bears a striking resemblance to Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) of the 1983 film A Christmas Story, but without the Red Ryder bb gun.  Young probably doesn’t know it, but he’s the center of attention every time he’s on stage.
Peter Billingsley in "A Christmas Story."  Photo credit:  AmericanTreasureTour.com

Nicholas Young, though, is not the “youngest” member of the cast; that honor would go to Morgan Young (“Want”) and Christopher Rockel (“Ignorance”).  When that pair shows up in what resembles Dickensian rags and zombie makeup (by Hailey Novick), the audience audibly gasps.  Neither has a line, but neither will be soon forgotten by anyone who saw the show.

Timothy Phillips is an effective Bob Cratchit, downtrodden and passive when confronted by his curmudgeon boss.  Catherine Cotton is Mrs. Cratchit, and she gets in the best lines about the worst boss in the world.  

The entire cast does a cappella versions of some of your (well, mine at least) favorite Christmas carols (‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Joy to the World,” etc).  Don’t be afraid to sing along; the lyrics are in your program.  The best of the bunch, though, is Jason Lopez’ solo on “O Holy Night.”  He has the voice to carry the song by himself, and it’s a special moment in the show.

Director Daniel Robbins flawlessly wrangles a huge cast on a tiny stage.  The entries and exits are seamless, even with the ladies wearing hoop skirts that require extra space and precise maneuvering.  Robbins has the group well prepared for the audience; I did not detect any dropped lines or miscues.  Kitty Robbins did the lights and sound, including a realistic thunderstorm.  Robbins turned up the tension for the Christmas ghosts, making Marley sound as if he was actually speaking from beyond the grave.

Scrooge’s Christmas is a welcome addition to the holiday theater scene.  It’s traditional.  It’s entertaining.  And best of all, it’s family entertainment for all ages at a reasonable price.  Tickets are only $12.00, but if you’re military, student or senior, you get a discount  Only $8.00 for you.  Scrooge’s Christmas would be a bargain at twice the price.  It’s that good.
Cast of "Scrooge's Christmas, A Christmas Carol."


Recommended.

Pre/Post Show Dining Recommendation:

Colorado Mountain Brewery at 600 S. 21st Street is literally just 5 minutes from the theater, and serves an array of interesting dishes (venison eggrolls and bison poppers, for example) that push the pub food limits.  You also get a super selection of their craft beers.  

Expect to spend about $20.00 per person for a beer and an entrée.  

NOTES:

Scrooge’s Christmas is appropriate for all ages.

There is free parking on Pecan Street.  There will cider for all after the performance.

This show closes on December 23, 2015.


PHOTO CREDITS Black Box Theatre.  Peter Billingsley photo credit:  American Treasure Tour.

TICKETS HERE:  


CREATIVE TEAM:

Director:  Daniel S. Robbins

Stage Manager:  Candi Martynes

Producer:  Nancy Holaday

Technical Director:  Alex Robbins

Lighting and Scene Design: Kitty Robbins

Props Mistress:  Katherine Larson

Makeup Design:  Hailey Novick

Choreographer: Athena Baschal



CAST:

Turkey Boy: Jaden Cotton

Nephew, Young Scrooge, Joe:  Kiffen Irwin

Ghost of Christmas Future:  Ashley Kalfas

Fan, Belinda Cratchit:  Katherine Larson

Townsperson: Jonathon Liller

Belle, Martha Cratchit, Nasty Woman #2:  Kayla Liller

Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Cratchit, Nasty Woman #1:  Catherine McGuire

Bob Cratchit:  Timothy Philips

Scrooge:  David Olson

Belle’s daughter:  Arianna Rockel

Niece, Mrs. Haversham:  Suzanne Seyfi

Gentleman #1, Jacob Marley, Mr. Fezziwig:  James Singleton

Gentleman #2, Belle’s husband, Ghost of Christmas Present, Mr. Haversham:  Steve Sladaritz

Dick Wilkins, Peter Cratchit:  Grant Spengler

Ghost of Christmas Past:  Riley Triggs

Boy Scrooge, Tiny Tim:  Nicholas Young

Want:  Morgan Young

Ignorance:  Christopher Rockel

Balladeer (“O Holy Night”):  Jason Lopez


Live music performed by:  Ashley Tracy, Kitty Robbins, and Jeannie Robbins

Irving Berlin's White Christmas at the Fine Arts Center



This review may be seen at the CS Indy website.  



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Tuna Christmas



Playwrights:  Jason Williams, Joe Sears, Ed Howard

Company:  Millibo Art Theatre (MAT)


Date of Performance:  Sunday, December 13, 2015

If you’re looking for a hilarious, non-stop, high energy Christmas comedy, look no further.  A Tuna Christmas at the Millibo Art Theatre (MAT) is exactly what you’re looking for.

Tuna Texas is the setting; it’s small town rural red neck Texas at it’s funniest.  Populated by characters like Didi, owner of Didi’s Used Weapons (“If we can’t kill it, it’s immortal”), Vera Carp , town snob and acting leader of the Smut-Snatchers of the New Order (“until the Rev. Spikes gets out of prison”), and Helen Bedd, a waitress at the Tasty-Creme, it’s, well, a red neck menagerie. 

It takes some high level comedic talent to pull Tuna off, and the MAT has two of the best.  Arguably the funniest guys ever to grace a stage in southern Colorado, Sammy Gleason and Sammie Joe Kinnett play 20 different characters in this hilarious send up of small town Texas at Christmas.  The subtitle for A Tuna Christmas could well be “The Two Sammies Go Full Tuna.”
Sammy Gleason (left) and Sammie Joe Kinnett (right).

Gleason and Kinnett are so convincing in drag that at times it’s a jolt to see them go back to playing the guys of Tuna.  Gleason has mastered spike heels, and his ruby red glitter footwear is the perfect look for Vera Carp.  Sammie Joe Kinnett has a solid comedic resume, and this is a chance to see him up close, personal, and unleashed.  His Bertha is so funny that you may have trouble seeing her.  The tears of laughter can obscure your view.

Given the antics and machine gun pace, it’s almost inevitable that A Tuna Christmas will devolve into improvisation.  And it does.  That’s a good thing, as both Sammies are quick wits who can turn a funny line into an altogether hilarious one.  You know they’re on fire when you hear the peals of laughter rolling through the room as they add some unexpected hilarity to the script.

A Tuna Christmas is a first rate laugh out loud gem done by two guys who live for roles like these.  Not only will you have a lot of fun, but you’ll also get to see two guys at the top of their game doing what they love.  

Recommended.  

NOTES:

A Tuna Christmas may be a little too adult for the young ones.  That said, however, there is nothing remotely offensive here in my view.  (I do admit that there may be a few sensitive Texans who will take exception to the script.)

Free parking at the door, and a two minute walk to Bristol Brewing Company.  We had an issue that last time we tried Bristol, but our stop there before A Tuna Christmas was fine.  If you order the Black Lager, they will make a $3.00 Indy Gives contribution to your favorite local charity (and that includes the Millibo).  Where else can you get a guilt free beer and help out a great cause?

This show closes on December 27, 2015.

PHOTO CREDITS Millibo Art Theatre

RESERVATIONS HERE:  


CREATIVE TEAM:

Director: Joye Levy

Set Design:  Roy Ballard


CAST:

NEARLY EVERYBODY:  Sammie Joe Kinnett


EVERYBODY ELSE:  Sammy Gleason

Friday, December 11, 2015

Stocking Stuffers



Playwrights:  Jenny Maloney & Jessica Weaver

Company:  Springs Ensemble Theatre Company

Venue:  Springs Ensemble Theatre, 1903 E. Cache La Poudre Street, Colorado Springs, CO.

Running Time:  2 hours 5 minutes (includes 15 minute intermission) 

Date of Performance:  Thursday, December 10, 2015. (Opening night, World Premiere)


Although there is not exactly a plot for Stocking Stuffers (it's really 18 different sketches about Christmas), there is one common thread throughout the show.  Three of those sketches (“Dear Santa,” “Strange Menorahs,” and “Impossible Letters”) deal with a military family, separated at the holidays because the father is deployed.  Those three scenes are poignant and perfect for the real meaning of Christmas.

The last of these three scenes (“Impossible Letters”) features John A. Zincone as Santa Claus, trying to make everyone’s Christmas wishes come true.  The costume designer is not credited in the program, but Zincone’s outfit is simultaneously contemporary and traditional.  Dressed in a snazzy grey suit, white shirt, and bright red bowtie, Zincone struts around the stage in shiny red wingtip shoes.  He has a lipstick red watch to make sure he gets his work done on time.  

The impression Zincone gives is a contemporary Santa, dressed to the nines and using an iPad, but anchored in the traditions he has personified for centuries.  But don’t assume that Zincone just looks good on stage (although he does).  He will also touch your heart as he delivers the Santa we hold dear, reuniting the separated family for the holidays.

JillMarie Peterson and Julie Kauppila ("Mele Kalikimaka")
The family reunion aside, though, Stocking Stuffers is much more musical and mischievous than sentimental.  There are a number of Christmas songs (nicely backed up with live music by The Rogues), including “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and “Santa Claus Got Stuck in my Chimney,” (both featuring Sarah S. Shaver).  Max Ferguson, whose singing voice is divine, adds “The Christmas Song” (“chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”).  Sisters Jillmarie Peterson and Julie Kauppila (both of whom grew up in Hawaii in a military family) do a heartfelt “Mele Kelikimaka.”  The ensemble closes the show with a singalong of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”  If the music doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, check your pulse.

In separate sexy tunes, Sarah S. Shaver and Autumn Schubauer vamp their way through some Christmas classics.  Shaver turns up the heat in “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and if you’re wondering, yes.  It gets hot.  Schubauer rocks “Santa Baby” like she’s auditioning for a strip club gig, teasing the crowd as she slinks and winks her way through what may well be the naughtiest Christmas song ever.
Autumn Schubauer, ready for "Santa Baby."

Schubauer doesn’t just sing and dance.  She also acts, and her showcase “A Very Merry Pinterest” should be a permanent part of her résumé.  If you’re unfamiliar with pinterest.com, check it out.  It’s a photo and info gallery for the crafty crowd.  Schubauer starts by singing its praises, but by the end of her scene she is done with it.  I think the proper adjective here is “intoxicating.”  In the current short hand for comedy, Schubauer is LOL (laugh out loud) and ROFL (roll on the floor laughing) funny.  May all our holidays be this much fun.

Jessica Parnello is hilarious as well as a cat contemplating a Christmas tree.  It doesn't take long for Parnello to set about destroying the enemy, in the most catlike way possible.

The award for the most dramatic scene in Stocking Stuffers is an easy call.  Jonathan Margheim is outstanding in “Perfectly Imperfect,” walking the audience through what could only be described as a most difficult Christmas.  It’s touching, it’s compelling, and one of the many high points in Stocking Stuffers.

There are a few scenes that fall a little short; “A Vagina Monologue” spins a Christmas message from a clinical description of, well, certain lady parts.  Point made, but kid friendly, it’s not.  (At least not for younger kids, who may have a bunch of questions for parents on the way to the parking lot.)  “The Flickers” has a nice local flavor, but it’s a little creepy for Christmas.  

I should also mention that the stage hands are dressed as elves, and both are somewhat torn between their naughty and nice sides.  Crystal Carter is Ginger Snap, and Brianna G. Pilon is Winter the Elf.  Together, they keep the audience entertained while quickly changing set pieces/props between sketches.

The wonder of Stocking Stuffers is not just the fun and poignant Christmas messages it sends.  It’s also a wonder of local talent.  From the creative script to the costumes, the lights, the sounds, the music, the voices, the acting, and the comedy, this is ALL local talent.  They created Stocking Stuffers from whole cloth, for your Christmas pleasure.  The result is a fun, entertaining, and often touching evening of Christmas entertainment. 

Beyond that, though, Stocking Stuffers is also a heartfelt theatrical Christmas card from your friends and neighbors on East Cache La Poudre.  We all know that homemade gifts are the best ones we get, and Stocking Stuffers is exactly that.  A homemade gift to the community, delivered with sincerity, conviction, respect, and love for all of us.


NOTES:

Younger children may not be ready for “A Vagina Monologue,” and other scenes may cause their vocabulary to expand.  F Bomb alert.

Free parking at the door, and free cookies and egg nog (not sure if that was an opening night treat).  Industry night is Monday, December 14.

I don’t often shop for dress shoes, but the next time I do, I want John Zincone to give me some advice.  Seriously.

This show closes on December 19, 2015.


PHOTO CREDITS Springs Ensemble Theatre; photography by Emory John Collinson and John A. Zincone

RESERVATIONS HERE:  


CREATIVE TEAM:

Producers:  Brianna G. Pilon, Max Ferguson, Emory John Collinson, Jenny Maloney, Matt Radcliffe

Director:  Emory John Collinson

Prop Designer:  Brianna G. Pilon

Sound Designer:  Jonathan Margheim

Lighting Designer:  Jenny Maloney

Stage Manager:  Hannah McCullough


CAST:

Brooke Ashbridge

Crystal Carter

Gabriel Espinoza-Lira

Max Ferguson

Brandon Foster

Karann Goettsch

Julie Kauppila

Jonathan Margheim

Jessica Parnello

Jillmarie Peterson

Brianna G. Pilon

Autumn Schubauer

Sarah S. Shaver

John A. Zincone


MUSICIANS:

The Rogue Spirits

Concertina, banjo, saw, vocals:  Travis Duncan

Baritone ukelele, guitar, vocals:  Jeremiah Walter

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Born Yesterday

Thomas Borillo (as Harry Bock) and Carley Cornelius (as Billie Dawn) in Theatreworks' production of Born Yesterday.


This review is available online at the CS Indy website.




Monday, December 7, 2015

A Christmas Carol



Story by:  Charles Dickens

Company:  Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Venue:  The Stage Theatre, 1101 13th Street, Denver, CO.

Running Time:  2 hours 15 minutes (includes 20 minute intermission) 

Date of Performance:  Friday, December 4, 2015. 

Hereafter, I will always associate the name Philip Pleasants with Charles Dickens and Ebenezer Scrooge.  Pleasants has played Scrooge since 1978 (debuting in Alaska, no less), including nine times at the Denver Center.  Not many of us would like to be remembered as Ebenezer.   Even so, Pleasants has so fully embraced the role that it will always define him for over 235,000 fans who have seen his Scrooge on the Denver Center stage.
Philip Pleasants as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Pleasants is a pleasure (pun intended) to watch; he brings out both the Scrooge who makes us cringe and the one who becomes a committed philanthropist.  It’s no small task; the two sides of Scrooge are polar opposites. Mr. Pleasants may be moving on to other projects and other roles, but he will not be forgotten next year when Sam Gregory steps into his very big Dickensian shoes.  As Gregory recently said, he’s following “the Peyton Manning of Scrooges.”  

Clanking his chain:  Jeffrey Roark as the Ghost of Jacob Marley.  Costume by Kevin Copenhaver
Mr. Pleasants aside, though, I don’t want to leave an impression that the rest of the huge cast and crew are ordinary.  They’re not.  This is a high energy, polished and very professional production, from start to finish.  Vicki Smith’s set design is beautiful and functional.  Kevin Copenhaver’s costumes are period perfect for Dicken’s London, contrasting the wealthy with the poor in stark detail.  Copenhaver’s outfits for the Ghosts of Jacob Marley, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come are outstanding, as is his outfit for Mrs. Fezziwig (Leslie O’Carroll).  Sound Designer Craig Breitenbach and Lighting Designer Don Darnutzer combine in the second act for the most realistic thunderstorm you will ever see (and hear) on stage.  Director Bruce K. Sevy has a huge cast, including a flock of kids, all coming and going on and offstage at a furious pace, never missing a mark.  

James Michael Reilly plays Bob Cratchit to Pleasant’s Ebenezer Scrooge, and he is remarkable in the role.  Pay particular attention during the “Ghost of Christmas Present” scene.  Reilly gathers the Cratchit family around the kitchen table, and talks to them about what Christmas means to him.  It’s Dicken’s words, but Reilly’s moment.  He makes the most of it, breathing life into the story with a heartfelt, sincere delivery that nearly moved me to tears.

Jeffrey Roark roars as the Ghost of Jacob Marley, and his Copenhaver costume makes him as scary as a real ghost would be.  Alan Dorsey (Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) is nearly as scary Roark.  Young Ella Galaty (Fan, Scrooge’s young sister), is locked in as she sings a solo.  I could go on.  Everyone on the stage, in the orchestra pit, and backstage puts in a tour de force performance for A Christmas Carol.
Ella Galaty

I’ve put a few notes in a separate section below, outlining some reasons why A Christmas Carol is still relevant today.  That’s a soap box section, and I put those notes there knowing there will be those who disagree with me.  That’s fine.  I’m separating my opinion from the all important facts about this DCPA holiday show.  

The word that comes to mind is clockwork.  Clockwork requires precision, timing, and perfection with every move.  And that perfectly describes A Christmas Carol at the DCPA.  This is is a classic story, brilliantly told by outstanding theater professionals.  Take your family, take your friends, hey, even take your own personal Ebenezer Scrooge.  It will improve your holiday season immensely.

The cast of A Christmas Carol.
























NOTES:

Younger children may be scared of the ghosts.  The ghost of Jacob Marley (Jeffrey Roark) and Christmas Yet To Come (Allen Dorsey) are both pretty creepy.  “The Ghost of Christmas Past,” (Stephanie Cozart) by comparison, is angelic.

As always, I recommend parking at the DCPA garage both for convenience and price.  It’s a $12 charge, but you’re right on the property, your car will be safe, and you don’t have to cruise the surrounding streets for other options (many of which will be more costly).  

SOAP BOX NOTES:

What follows is mostly opinion, supported by a few facts.  You don’t have to read, or agree with, anything below.  

A Christmas Carol teaches us compassion and respect for people from all walks of life.  That’s a message we still need today, >170 years after Dickens wrote it.  Like Dickens’ London, we still have abundant poverty several generations later.  More than 13% of Coloradans live in poverty.  Worse, 15% of children in Colorado live in poverty.  That’s actually somewhat better in the last few years, but still a significant problem.

As a nation, we have a huge and growing gap between the rich and the poor.  Instead of generating upward mobility for all, the US has become more like Dickens’ 19th century London.

And it’s not just numbers.  It’s attitudes about the poor, the disabled, and the otherwise needy.  Hostility is not hard to find.  

I was in a line at my local Costco last week; the line was both long and slow moving.  The guy in front of me turned and said something to me:  “this is ridiculous.”  I agreed, and said they need to hire more people.  His reply floored me:  “They can’t.  People don’t want a job because they’d have to give up their welfare benefits.”  His contempt for the less fortunate was palpable.  I didn’t get his name, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Ebenezer Scrooge.

Dickens got it right in A Christmas Carol, and we still need to hear his message.  Things haven’t changed much.  1843 London is not Denver, but the differences, at least in terms of respect, compassion, and charity may not be as great as we would wish.

END OF SOAP BOX NOTES

This show closes on December 27, 2015.


PHOTO CREDITS The DCPA Press and Adams Visual Communications.

TICKETS HERE:  

Pre/Post Show Dining Suggestion

I had gotten some Morton’s Steakhouse gift cards for Father’s Day, so we used them before the show.  It’s at 1701 Wynkoop Street, so after you park at the Denver Center, walk the 2 blocks to the 16th Street Mall and take the free shuttle bus to Wynkoop Street.  It’s about 2 blocks east of the bus stop.  Allow at least 10 minutes for the walk/shuttle trip.

Morton’s is a high end steakhouse, with high end prices.  Know that before you go, and plan on a minimum of $50/person.  It’s an a la carte menu, so you buy your appetizers, salads, and entrees separately.  It adds up quickly, since most of the entrees are north of $40.00.  If you’d like to try Morton’s but not spend a fortune, try the Happy Hour menu (service in the bar only).  It’s actually quite reasonable.  

My experience before the show, indeed, for the 3-4 times I’ve been to Morton’s, was splendid.  Impeccable service, steakhouse ambiance, and fantastic steaks.  It’s one of those rare restaurants where you pay top dollar and leave thinking it’s worth every penny.


CREATIVE TEAM:

Director:  Bruce K. Sevy

Assistant Director:  Christine Rowan

Musical Director & Orchestrations:  Gregg Coffin

Choreographer/Dance Captain:  Christine Rowan

Set Designer:  Vicki Smith

Costume Designer:  Kevin Copenhaver 

Sound Designer:  Craig Breitenbach

Lighting Designer:  Don Darnutzer

Stage Manager:  Christopher C. Ewing

Assistant Stage Managers:  Jonathan D. Allsup, Matthew Campbell

Children’s Supervisor:  Lauren Lacasse

Voice & Dialect Coaching:  Kathryn G. Maes, Ph.D


CAST:

Ebenezer Scrooge:  Philip Pleasants

Bob Cratchit:  James Michael Reilly

Fred, Scrooge’s Newphew:  M. Scott McLean

Subscription Gentlemen:  Colin Alexander, Rodney Lizcano

A Beggar Child:  Brody Lineaweaver

Tailor:  Robert Andrew Koutras

Tailor’s Wife:  Emma C. Martin

Ghost of Jacob Marley:  Jeffrey Roark

Ghost of Christmas Past:  Stephanie Cozart

Schoolmaster:  Daniel Langhoff

School Boys:  Edwin Harris, Ben W. Heil, Charlie Korman, Avi Levin, Brody Lineaweaver, Max Raabe, Nate Patrick Siebert, Owen Zitek

Their Parents:  Colin Alexander, Leslie Alexander, Mehry Eslaminia, Shannan Steele, Jacke Williamson, Erin Willis

Ebenezer the Child:  Charlie Korman

Fan, Scrooge’s Sister:  Ella Galaty

Ebenezer the Young Man:  M. Scott McLean

Dick Wilkins:  Allen Dorsey

Fezziwig:  Michael Fitzpatrick

Mrs. FezziwigLeslie O’Carroll

Fezziwig Daughters:  Mehry Eslaminia, Kyra Lindsay, Emma C. Martin

Their Suitors:  Benjamin Bonenfant, Daniel Langhoff, Robert Andrew Koutras

A Fiddler:  James Michael Reilly

Belle:  Courtney Capek

Belle’s Husband:  Jake Williamson

Ghost of Christmas Present:  Colin Alexander

Mrs. Cratchit:  Leslie Alexander

Martha:  Kyra Lindsay

Peter:  Ben W. Heil

Belinda:  Helen Reichert

Edward:  Max Raabe

Tiny Tim:  Augie Reichert

Fred’s Wife:  Shannan Steele

Topper:  Jeffrey Roark

The Wife’s Sister:  Stephanie Cozart

Fred’s Party Guests:  Leslie O’Carroll, Erin Willis, Daniel Langhoff, Benjamin Bonenfant

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come:  Allen Dorsey

Want:  Olivia Sullivant

Ignorance:  Owen Zitek

Old Joe:  Rodney Lizcano

The Undertaker’s Man:  Benjamin Bonenfant

The Laundress:  Leslie O’Carroll

The Charwoman:  Stephanie Cozart

Merchants from the Exchange:  Robert Andrew Koutras, Daniel Langhoff, Jake Williamson

Street Singer:  Christine Rowan

Boy in the Street:  Edwin Harris


Ensemble (Londoners, Fezziwig Party Guests and Phantoms):  

Colin Alexander, Leslie Alexander, Benjamin Bonenfant, Courtney Capek, Stephanie Cozart, Allen Dorsey, Napoleon M. Douglas, Mehry Eslaminia, Michael Fitzpatrick, Ella Galaty, Edwin Harris, Ben W. Heil, Charlie Korman, Robert Andrew Koutras, Daniel Langhoff, Avi Levin, Kyra Lindsay, Brody Lineaweaver, Rodney Lizcano, Emma C. Martin, M. Scott McLean, Leslie O’Carroll, Max Raabe, Augie Reichert, Helen Reichert, James Michael Reilly, Jeffrey Roark, Christine Rowan, Nate Patrick Siebert, Shannon Steele, Olivia Sullivent, Jake Williamson, Erin Willis, Owen Zitek.