Entries in Matt Daniels. A Christmas Carol (1)



In their final seasonal presentation of the musical revue Scrooge in Rouge, In Tandem Theatre at Tenth Street Theatre opened the returning comedy this past weekend. When the crazy yuletide shopping and sentiment stifles one’s holiday joy, Scrooge In Rouge will definitely revive it with hilarity. 

The production’s British turn of the 20th century setting recalls the era’s raucous Variety or Vaudeville humor that eventually developed the later half's popular music culture. Which can be a worthwhile gift to an audience when done well. In Tandem's three actors Matt Daniels (Lottie), Chris Flieller (Charlie) and Marcella Kearns (Vesta) present A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in satirical song and dance while playing all the characters in the story with decided panache. 

While Dickens’ story remains recognizable in the supposedly English Royal Music Hall’s three-actor rendition, the production offers Christmas spirit with a dose of schmaltz. Kathleen Smith’s quick costume changes add substantially to the production’s success, as does David Bonofiglio’s musical direction and accompaniment on piano. The audience then forgives the company misplacing jokes in lines such as, “What ghost up must come down.”

The performance also involves Daniel’s cross-dressed Lottie fumbling with her dialogue and trying to remember Bob Cratchit’s real name: Is it Bob Crabcakes or Bob Cranberry? Additional clever songs and lyrics by Ricky Graham and Jefferson Turner will bring a smile when combined with material from Jefferson Roberson and Yvette Hargis. Daniels, Flieller and Kearns were cast together with infinite affection for the book, lyrics and each other that deftly displays an irrepressible talent in this irreverent comedy. 

An especially funny number begins the second act, which as Charlie claims has nothing to do with the plot: Beside the Shiny, Briny Sea. Thoroughly enjoyable, at this point the audience barely notices and might be relaxing in their seats after an intermission when they purchased “the intoxication that will pay for the cast’s vacations.” 

Scrooge in Rouge entertains all evening with informal touches that also involves audience participation. An affable and willing member participated at the Saturday matinee. The dry English humor that may seem silly and a bit depraved at times will engage those audiences that define December by the phrase “Bah, Humbug!” (Incidentally, in this production another well done song and dance number.) 

Even if one believes that the traditional holiday performances are touching, try this Scrooge for one evening. Diehard Christmas fans may discover Scrooge in Rouge can lighten the holiday load with a definitely decadent charm, primarily because of these three gifted actors. Catch the production before its performance ghost disappears into the Christmas past forever. 

In Tandem Theatre presents Scrooge in Rouge at Tenth Street Theatre through December 31, with a special New Year’s Eve reception after the last performance. In Tandem recommends the performances for those over 13 years of age.  For information or tickets call: 414.271.1371 or click the link to the left.    by Peggy Sue Dunigan