|The Man (who isn't Scrooge)||Michael Weinhofer|
|The Woman (who also isn't Scrooge)||Kayleigh Jardine|
|The Man at the Piano (who also isn't Scrooge)||Joseph Fink|
|Music Director||Joseph Fink|
'Broadway Christmas Carol' a laugh-a-minute Dickens spoof
By Myra Yellin Outwater, Special to The Morning Call
The Pennsylvania Playhouse's elaborate, fussy Victorian stage set is vintage Dickens. And the four members of the cast are dressed in perfect period attire. But once music director Joseph Fink sits down at the piano and Kerry McGuire, Kayleigh Jardine and Michael Weinhoffer launch into their opening number, an infectious parody of Stephen Sondheim's "Comedy Tonight," it becomes apparent that this evening is not going to be a classic retelling of the Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" tale. Instead "A Broadway Christmas Carol" treats the audience to a magical song and dance extravaganza, or to be exact, a game of "Name that Show!"
The next two hours is laugh-a-minute, laugh-out-loud fun. There's over-the-top clowning, physical antics, tap and Broadway-style dancing as 31 Broadway showstoppers are used to spoof the story of Scrooge. McGuire remains Scrooge throughout, but the other actors scramble for costumes and assume all the roles in the story, delighting with cleverly adapted lyrics.
The show outrageously parodies hits from "Sweet Charity" and "Singin' in the Rain." There's a slick chorus line from "Damn Yankees" and a seductive solo by Jardine from "Godspell." Other tongue-in-cheek hijinks, kick-up-your-heels tap dances and chorus lines parody songs from "Bye Bye Birdie," "Sweeney Todd," "Cats," "The Fantasticks," "42nd Street," "Guys and Dolls," "Phantom," "Carousel" and "The King and I." And tghre's an incorrigible and deliciously wicked swipe at "Avenue Q."
One of the showstoppers features Weinhoffer as Tiny Tim, singing a hysterical version of Annie's "Tomorrow." In fact when Tiny Tim began to sing, the audience burst into unrestrained laughter and the 6-year-old boy sitting behind me doubled over with loud giggles.
Weinhoffer and Jardine handle the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present with style and élan and the set offers enough ramps for all of them to travel back and forth from past to present to future.
The evening is fast paced and sassy. The devil may care attitude of the cast is contagious. And with all the clever staging, the imaginative choreography and the clever use of the two tiered theater space, you would never know that this is Brenda McGuire's directing debut. In fact McGuire is a natural and has definitely brought old time Broadway to Dickens. And her liberal use of red in her costume design add to the holiday atmosphere.
Stir in Fink's polished piano playing and the versatility and talent of the cast, and you have a recipe for fun, old fashioned family entertainment.
"A Broadway Christmas Carol,'' is an unexpectedly charming tribute to Dickens and since Dickens was at heart an actor, he would have approved. And perhaps he would even have grabbed his own top hat and cane and joined in the merriment!
Myra Yellin Outwater is a freelance writer.
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