Humbugging at minimum

The Boston Herald 12/22/95

D.W. Ferranti's witty rock musical, "X-Mass Carol," opened its third annual holiday run on Wednesday night at the Lansdowne Playhouse to a half-filled house of hardy souls. "We're relieved to see this many people," says Acme Theatr cast member Mikey Dee during intermission, noting that the show's opening nights are traditionally accompanied by snowstorms. "X-Mass Carol" (deliberately misspelled in the Acme tradition - watch for "McBeth" at the Playhouse in January) is worth the trek through the blizzard. This year's spruced-up version (previ- ous ones were staged at the Middle East~ includes a smart new set design and special effects. The band (Joint Chiefs, headed by Bim Skala Bim's Jim Jones, who wrote the original score~ tow- ers over snowy rooftops and clock towers, Godzilla- style; stage fog creeps over the street outside Scrooge's four-poster bedroom; blacklight projec- tions of a spooky sky of spectral faces and yellow moon loom over the scene. Updated references to "Kurt Cobain inspira- tional calendars" and Beatles reunions pop up in the schtick-laden dialogue,-which plays fast and loose with Dickens' text. Writer~director Ferranti plays a high-bluster Scrooge to a cast of struggling actors and musicians loaded with comedic talent. Paul Scott, as Scrooge's playboy nephew Fred, pre- sents the trendy guests at his Dionysian Christmas party with a who-am-I? riddle, interrupting himself in midsentence - "I rant and rave . . . Did someone say rave?" - to signal a fresh onslaught of strobe lights, techno beats and wild interpretive dancing. Fran Pado's Tiny Tim Cratchit is an eye-rolling adolescent spewing Marxist sentiments and issuing the famous "God bless us, every one" line with "D-uh! Yeah~ right, Dad!" teen-age sarcasm. Mikey Dee's Ghost of Christmas Past is a Borscht-belt comedian in a velvet blazer whose guided tour of yesteryear ends at intermission: "Have a drink! Schmooze!" he instructs as he lopes off down the aisle, throwing kiss- es. "Say hello to StevenTyler for me!" Brad Scobie, as the Ghost of Christmas Present, gets huge laughs with his over-the-top performance as a wriggling, powder wigged fop, needling Scrooge: "Either that wallpaper goes or I go, so . . . I go! And you're coming with me!" They are briefly waylaid on their journey to the Cratchits' home by a misguided George Bailey, whom they shoo from the scene. "Wull, that's just not right, not right at all!?' the Jimmy Stewart impersonator grumbles as he mopes off. "Whar's Mary?"


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