'Broadway Christmas Carol': Ingenious spoof will have you singing,
By Myra Yellin Outwater
Special to The Morning Call
December 4, 2007
''A Broadway Christmas Carol'' at the Pennsylvania
Playhouse is simply great fun and a must-see for all Broadway musical
Not only does the shameless Broadway spoof offer tons of cheap laughs,
silly gags, satirical patter and inventive comic song-and-dance numbers,
but it also ingeniously blends Dickensian plot and dialogue with Broadway
tunes. It unashamedly mixes Scrooge with Jabert and Sweeney Todd, and
evokes happy memories of ''Carousel,'' ''Oklahoma!'' ''My Fair Lady,'' ''Godspell,''
''Annie,'' ''Les Miz,'' ''Damn Yankees,'' ''Phantom of the Opera,''
''Chicago'' and ''Cats.''
Director Ralph Montesano stages the show with wit and flair. He deftly
turns what could be just a musical revue into a fully staged mini-musical.
And his three-actor cast, with the help of a lot of props, wigs and
split-second costume changes, really hams up Dickens. At Saturday
evening's show, the audience broke out in chuckles, giggles and loud
The script by Kathy Feininger calls for the actors to play multiple roles.
Kerry McGuire as Scrooge manages to stay true to Dickens' character while
keeping up the play's vaudevillian flavor. He humbugs and rails against
Christmas, but then suddenly breaks into a tap dance, dons his top hat,
flings open his arms and gives way to joyful high kicks, clicking his
heels together with glee.
Edward Webb, who plays the narrator, Bob Cratchit, nephew Fred, Christmas
Past, Tiny Tim, Ignorance, Gossip, Caroline's husband and the Turkey boy
in the street is a debonair bon vivant, impeccably groomed. He stops the
show with his ''Annie'' wig and, as Tiny Tim, sings ''Tomorrow, Tomorrow,
I will Walk Again.'' He is also a delight as the forgetful and
unforgettable aging ghost of the past, who exhorts Scrooge to ''Try to
Remember'' (''The Fantasticks.'')
Pamela Dillenbeck, while not as successful as the two men in maintaining
all her alter egos, manages to mix styles, tempos and accents as the
narrator, Charity Collector, Marley's Ghost, Baby Fan, Mrs. Fezziwig,
Belle, Christmas Present, Mrs. Cratchit, Marie, Want, Gossip and Caroline.
Her best gig is playing the ghost of Christmas Present, gift-wrapped in an
oversized box. She is less successful when she panders to expectations and
vamps up ''Big Spender'' and ''Turn Back Old Man.'' But she is a delight
as Mrs. Cratchit, singing along with Webb (with apologies to ''Les Miz'')
''Founder of the Feast.''
Music director Joseph Fink plays Mr. Fezziwig, Party Guest, and the piano
with skill and panache. His finest moment is when he brings to life the
Phantom of Christmas Future in a wonderfully irreverent spoof of the
Broadway classic, complete with hanging chandelier. Ably abetted by
McGuire's comic asides, he plays his role to the hilt.
But watching the actors emote is just half the fun. Recognizing the
origins of the songs is even more fun. And without giving too much away,
my favorites were Scrooge singing ''I'm in the Money'' (''42nd Street''),
Webb as Bob Crachit jubilantly dancing to ''Once-a-Year Day'' (''Pajama
Game'') and Webb and Dillenbeck singing ''A Real Nice Pudding,'' with
apologies to ''Carousel's'' ''Clambake,'' and ''It Sucks to be Thee''
''A Broadway Christmas Carol,'' 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday,
through Dec. 16, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illick's Mill Road, Bethlehem.
Tickets: $18; $15 seniors and students Fridays and Sundays only.
Myra Yellin Outwater is a freelance writer.
Jodi Duckett, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Copyright © 2007,
The Morning Call