<Theatre Mirror Review>"Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" "MRS. BOB CRATCHIT'S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE">

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entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Contemporary Theater's holiday show this year is Christopher Durang's send up of the traditional "Christmas Carol". To bring Christmas cheer, Scrooge and the Ghost go to the Bob Cratchit home where they find the neurotic Mrs. Cratchit lamenting life and motherhood and threatening to jump off the London bridge. The show is a madcap musical parody of the Dickens classic and offers a refreshing playful twist on the beloved holiday tale. It gives a fresh and spin on the spoofed to death classic. Director Kira Hawkridge casts these comic roles splendidly with her 18 member cast. The whole cast is rewarded with a spontaneous thunderous ovation at curtain call as well as receiving constant laughter during the show.

Since this isn't a well know show, I will supply a brief synopsis. The main character is the hard-drinking, suicidal Gladys Cratchit, whose harshness surpasses Mommy Dearest by a mile. The other two main characters are the Ghost and Scrooge. The Ghost escorts him through the past, present and future but her magic is messed up so things keeps going "kaplooey".  They try to go the Fezziwig party but end up at the Crachit's home in the present where we meet Gladys and her hungry but cheerful children who live in a bunch in the root cellar. Most of the characters retain their Dickensian flavor. Scrooge is still a curmudgeon while Bob is the gentle family man who is the prime target of Scrooge's cheapness. Tiny Tim is crippled and heartrending as is Little Nell, another Dickens character. Durang also includes scenes from Oliver Twist, Leona Helmsley, It's a Wonderful Life, the Enron scandal, The Gift of the Magi and Touched by an Angel. The catchy songs are "It's Nearly Christmas", "It's Christmas Day" and "The Fezziwig Dance song" which closes the first act.

Kira gives her cast many moments of clever shtick to perform and gives each of them their moment to shine in this show. She blocks it beautifully and keeps the show high energy from start to finish. Christine Cauchon shines as Gladys Cratchit. She insults her husband and kids constantly. Christine's rantings and raving are hysterical as she keeps saying that she hears voices. Some of her funniest moments occur when she asks Tiny Tim if he is blind as well as being crippled, asks Bob if he is blind as well as poor, insults Little Nell for being tall and having a face like oatmeal, and hates the pathos in her family. Christine is a hoot, as she downs tequila sunrise after another in the barroom.Ron Giles excellently plays the title role as Scrooge. he buys into the Enron scheme, cuts Bob in on the deal cutting his salary in half, and makes him slap himself in the face. He enjoys going to the executions of other people and likes being nasty and mean. He also loves Gladys bad attitude. Amelia Giles excels as the Ghost. She commands the stage in this huge role. Amelia constantly changes costumes as the three ghosts. She has a gorgeous singing voice and has many funny one liners and is hilarious as she zaps Scrooge and Gladys when they misbehave with a taser. The Ghost also claims Scrooge would be diagnosed with Tourette's for saying "Bah, Humbug" in current day terms. She brings the children Happy Meals and Gladys exclaims they can use the white bags to puke in if they get sick. When her magic goes wacky, a surprising scene with Clarence occurs and can't be revealed here.

Chris LaChapple plays the long suffering Bob who gets abused by his mean boss, his mean wife. He also leads the children in "Silent Night" at dirge tempo, infuriating Scrooge. He also receives laughs when he slaps his face and when he brings home his 21 child. Grace Van Dale is a hoot as Tiny Tim winning many laughs. Tim loves the wrapping paper and wishes he didn't rip it, spits out the rancid pudding, and later on says he will die from consumption if Scrooge doesn't reform his ways. Andrew Katzman and Rico Lanni are hoots as Fezzwigs daughters. Rico has a full beard and also plays one of the Gentleman who is Ken Lay of Enron infamy. Andrew also plays Serena the maid, the Dutch husband in "The Gift of the Magi" and George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" sounding just like Jimmy Stewart. Terry Simpson plays Jacob Marley, Mr. Fezziwig and the Beadle from "Oliver" while Valerie Tarantino plays Mrs. Fezziwig and the Beadle's wife. Ashley Macamaux is a hoot as Little Nell. She is extremely tall, winning many laughs from her portrayal. Charlie Santos plays Clarence the Angel wonderfully. Kudos to the whole cast on this high energy farce. I don't want to give away too many details to spoil it for the audience. Just be sure to run to this rip roaring farce as it tears apart the classic tale in a Monty Python type of manner that will leave you in stitches. It is one of the must see shows this holiday season. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" (5 - 21 December)
@ 327 Main Street, WAKEFIELD RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide