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MRS. BOB CRATCHIT'S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE MRS. BOB CRATCHIT'S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE
by Christopher Durang

Richardson Theatre Centre

Director – Rachael Lindley
Musical Director – Erin McGrew
Scenic Designer – Charles A. Alexander
Lighting Designer – Charles A. Alexander
Costume Designer – Rachael Lindley
Stage Manager – Adriana Martinez
Props Master – Elaine Erback

CAST :

Ebenezer Scrooge – Charles A. Alexander
Bob Cratchit – Marcus Ridner
Mrs. Bob Cratchit – Janette Oswald
Ghost – Laura Warner
Tiny Tim – Josie Thomas
Nice Mrs. Cratchit – Libby Goldman
Young Scrooge – Lance Davis
Serena the Maid – Becky Byrley
George Bailey – Ben Richardson
Gentleman 1 – Richard Stephens, Jr.
Jacob Marley – Richard Stephens, Jr.
Gentleman 2 – Elizabeth Atwater
Fezziwig Child – Elizabeth Atwater
Bartender 2 – Elizabeth Atwater
Tess – Elizabeth Atwater
Mr. Beadle – Lyle Bradley
Mr. Fezziwig – Lyle Bradley
Edvar – Lyle Bradley
Marthum/ Little Willie – Linda Cate Collins
Zuzu Bailey – Linda Cate Collins
The Beadle’s Wife – Jules Donaghey
Mrs. Fezziwig – Jules Donaghey
Hedvig – Jules Donaghey
Monica – Jules Donaghey
Little Molly – Emily Moriarty
Fezziwig Child – Emily Moriarty
Clara the Angel – Emily Moriarty
Little Nell – Autumn Richardson
Bartender 1 – Autumn Richardson
Young Jacob Marley – Kelsey Ulrich
Cratchit Child – Kelsey Ulrich

Photos taken by Lise Alexander

MRS. BOB CRATCHIT'S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGEMRS. BOB CRATCHIT'S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE






Reviewed Performance 12/14/2013

Reviewed by Scott W. Davis , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

It’s that time of the year again. People are pulling their trees out of storage, decorating the home, and going to see Ebenezer reform himself after being set straight by some unworldly characters. Richardson Theatre Centre, however, puts a new twist on this classic story in their production of Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge. Young Scrooge’s “Bah, humbugs” turn out to be an undiagnosed form of Tourette’s. With this ailment, he proceeds to grow up into the miser we know and love to hate. Enter the Ghost of Christmas Past who shows up to take Scrooge on a journey to help him see the ills of his ways. Unfortunately, the ghost’s magic keeps malfunctioning through the entire show and they consistently find themselves arriving in the wrong places at the wrong times. Mrs. Cratchit turns out to be the only person in the show who can hear the ghost and Ebenezer which drives her to drink incessantly. As the ghost loses more and more control the cast gets thrown through different scenarios and our famous holiday stories get mixed together for a hilarious ending.

RTC tries to make this story come to life with some really talented cast members but had serious problems with several different aspects of this production. Throughout the show there were several places where the acting got stagnant due to bad timing or missed trigger lines, making the show drag. Some of the cast were having problems with line memorization which also didn’t help with the timing problems. The best parts of the show came during the singing. Musical Director Erin McGrew pulled out her wand and did some magic with the few songs in the show. There was Impressive harmonization from the entire cast on most every song that was sung. She also did a fabulous job with Laura Warner’s vocals throughout the show.
While the singing and vocals were fantastic, the set became the elephant in the room. Charles A. Alexander designed the set which consisted of a five feet high platform centered on the upstage wall with two flats on top of them. The flats were painted with a blue metallic glaze. The flats looked a little out of place since the platform was really twice as large as the flats on top of them. Off of the platform there were two sets of stairs and platforms coming off the front corners of the tall platform that became ramps and stairs to get to the tall platform. It looked like they tried to finish off the front of all the stairs with luan to make it look cleaner but unfortunately none of the cuts were straight so it looked bad. It became even more detrimental in the first act when Ebenezer, who was played by the same man who designed the set, went to go down the stairs to the lower platform. His shoe caught the luan lip and he proceeded to fall onto the lower platform. It took him a few seconds to compose himself but he got up and continued on. The construction made the set dangerous to play on and I found myself cringing whenever someone walked up those ramps and stairs.

Mr. Alexander took on a lot of responsibilities on this production. Besides the set, he also took on the lighting for this show. While not intricate, the design for this show was effective. A lot of quick fades made the comedic aspects punch through better. But where he really became the most productive is when playing Ebenezer Scrooge. He did a fabulous job recreating the miser with truly believable mannerisms. Mr. Alexander’s performance was incredibly enhanced by his ability with facial movement to express his feelings. You have to give him a lot of credit as he had to work with an eight or nine year old actor to try to create and mimic each other’s movements and mannerisms and he did it with ease.

Janette Oswald played Mrs. Cratchit to the hilt. Looking drunk, stressed and full of hate for children, she masterfully pulled this character through the story while at the same time helping the rest of the cast during their rough parts. She really became the leader for whole group.

Emily Moriarty became another stand out performer in this ruckus as Clara the Angel. You see Ms. Moriarty through the whole show but in a scene during Act Two the wings come out and Clara gets her moment in the spotlight. Facial expressions became her best asset and I couldn’t stop laughing when her face twisted and she got perplexed as the scene progressed. A wonderfully good performance.

One ghost was just not enough of a challenge for Laura Warner so she took on three instead. Ms. Warner proved the minute she entered the stage, singing a cappella, that she had the vocal’s for all three ghosts. Her ability to belt was evident but her resonation during softer moments really proved how strong her vocals were.

There were several actors that, pooled together, were the comedians of the show. Autumn Richardson played the horse in the play. She kept clopping her foot on the floor the whole time she was onstage. It was hilarious. But she had competition in the comedic arena with Richard Stephens, Jr. as both Jacob Marley and a drum-toting gentleman. His Marley interpretation was brilliant – five minutes of banter with Scrooge that had you laughing the entire time.

Marcus Ridner took a shot at playing Bob Cratchit and hit a bullseye. I loved his deadpan expressions while he interacted with his drunken wife and twenty children.

The Fezziwigs come to us via Lyle Bradley and Jules Donaghey, both of which made one feel the fun in the room during their scene. Both did a great job interacting with each other as well as the rest of the people at the party which made the happy go lucky couple a little more believable.

During the first scene of Act one you get to see a very young Scrooge, played by Lance Davis. What a stellar job he did with this character. For an actor that young to remember all those lines was an accomplishment in itself. Since he’s portraying a younger version of Scrooge it becomes so important for both performers to really copy mannerisms. Once again young Mr. Davis does an incredible job on recreating the same movements that Mr. Alexander put into his Scrooge performance. They were the perfect twins.

Where would we be without Tiny Tim??? Josie Thomas will certainly have a sore side after the run of this show. She must fall at least fifty times through the musical. I’ve got to give her some credit for that. The rest of the ensemble really came together and helped the rest of the group vocally during all the musical numbers.

Rachael Lindley was in charge of the costumes which I felt worked well for the show. Ebenezer wore a black vest with a paisley pattern that gave the feel of luxury. All of the costumes were appropriate for the time period and worked for the action that was played out. All the children were in stretchy pants which made it easy for them to move around. Ms. Lindley wore the director’s hat as well. There were some brilliant decisions made as far as blocking was concerned. You always worry in a semi-thrust space that actors won’t open up to the whole audience or favor certain directions, but Ms. Lindley was very intuitive and kept the actors flowing around the stage. Unfortunately, she allowed too many of her design team to do too many things at one time which allowed safety and fine tuning slip through the cracks.

There was a fair amount of properties in the show and they became very important due to the lack of set pieces. Elaine Erback did a great job with all of them. From the wand to the happy meals, everything was spot on.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge is an extremely funny, well-written script that has a ton of humorous moments and the cast at Richardson Theatre Centre has a lot of heart and talent. Sometimes that’s enough to make you go see a show that’s not always firing on all cylinders.




MRS. BOB CRATCHIT’S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE
Richardson Theatre Centre, 518 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson, TX 75080

The production runs through December 29th

Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday - Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm.
Tickets are $20.00 Thursday and Sunday, and $22.00 Friday and Saturday.

For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.richardsontheatrecentre.net or call them at 972-699-1130.