Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two wrongs make a right

So I thought last night was the charitable admission night for “Scrooge in Rouge” – you know, donate canned goods and you can see the show. Well, turns out it was opening night (duh). I ended up keeping my boxfull of Sauer’s condiments and jars of Costco peanut butter but still got to see a great show!

I also thought curtain was at 8pm but it was at 8:30. However, I got to spend at least a slice of that time hanging around chatting with the dashing Elliot Lau who many just saw in “All That I Will Ever Be” at Shafer Street Playhouse last weekend. I wasn’t able to catch it but I heard it was a great show. And anything with Mr. Lau in it would be worth a look – that’s even before consideration of the special appearance by a virtual John Porter!

“SnR” was a hoot, pure and simple, with Steve Boschen very nearly stealing the show with his over-the-topligato portrayal of Lottie Obbligato. He would have stolen the show outright if he didn’t have to wrest it from such predigious competition, Kirk Morton and Lauren Leinhaas-Cook. Morton brings a wonderful antic energy to everything he does, particularly hilarious in his petulant Ghost of Christmas Past and brightly idiotic Fred. Leinhaas-Cook does a great gruff Scrooge and, while she doesn’t get as many of the goofy one-liners, she makes the ones she delivers work. Most of all, she remains a fine actress even amidst all of the silliness; I particularly liked her cheerful reaction to Scrooge’s post-mortem song, “Good Riddance, Goodbye!”

Speaking of songs, one of the reasons to recommend this show is that, while the actors are all great comedians, they don’t coast on their ability to elicit laughter. Each has a winning singing voice as well and they all are put to good use in the calvalcade of 18 songs that spill forth in the short 80 minute, intermission-less show.

But what really pushes this production from great to exceptional is the costume design by Thomas Hammond. This is one of those shows where the costumes get nearly as many laughs as the cast. And some of the outsized pieces brought to my mind the wonderful memory of RTP’s “When Pigs Fly” so many years ago. Hammond truly is a comedian with cloth.

So definitely go see “Scrooge in Rouge” and that may be the last time I say it because I will be compelled in the next several days and weeks to make repeated encouragements for all to see “Greetings” at Swift Creek Mill and “A Christmas Carol” at Theatre IV. Does this signal the final death throes of my objectivity? Could be. Still, a beautiful bird told me that the IDR of “Greetings” went very well last night so be sure and make room for that one on your dance card.

Final note: be sure and check out Bruce Miller's comment in response to my "Merch" post. Three Bags Full -- I'm very excited about this!

1 comment:

philcrosby said...

Dave --

Thanks for the good words about "Scrooge in Rouge." It's been a marvelous experience and we are truly blessed to be doing it at TheatreGym.

And on that note, many folks may not know this show almost didn't happen. RTP has been performing in various venues while renovating its own new theatre at 1300 Altmont Avenue (update: major construction is due to be complete by the end of this month!). We believed we had an agreement for "Scrooge" in another venue in Richmond and, literally four weeks ago, they informed us that we would not be rented to.

There we were, show in rehearsal, costumes being built and no theater. I sent a call out to the performing arts community at large and, while many were helpful, it was Phil Whiteway and Bruce Miller who came through for us. They had just cleaned out the TheatreGym (they had been using it for much-needed storage) and the space was available.

We hammered out a quick rental agreement and the deal was done. No concerns that our sometimes irreverant take on "A Christmas Carol" would be playing next door and occasionally simultaneously to their very traditional production. No concerns that an openly LGBT theatre would be sharing space with a family theater. They were simply there to help another company in need.

When it comes to leadership in the performing arts community, Phil and Bruce "walk the walk." Their entire staff -- despite preparing five other shows at the same time -- opened their arms and welcomed us as part of their family. No requests were too big ... there was always an outstretched hand to help.

So bravo to Phil and Bruce and everyone at Theatre IV ... they have given Richmond Triangle Players the best Christmas gift we could ever ask for!