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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Wanzie’s Glittering Star-Studded “A Christmas Carol”

Wanzie’s Glittering Star-Studded “A Christmas Carol”
Based on a novel by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Michael Wanzie and Matthew Arter
Footlights Theatre, Orlando FL

You’ve seen it with ghosts, you’ve seen it with puppets, you’ve seen the one man, the three man and the full metal cast of thousands crammed on to a 30 by 40 stage, you’ve even seen it with duck, but have you seen it done with washed up pop diva’s? I thought not. In this extremely loose adaptation of the classic holiday ghost story Mr. Wanzie has called in the likes of Carol Channing (Carol Lee), Cher (Miss Sammy), Liza Minnelli (Gidget Galore) Rip Torn (Doug Ba’aser) and Marlee Maltin (Doug Ba’aser) to do the honors. Channing arrives late, forcing the narrator (Wanzie) to start the show repeatedly as Channing discovers she’s not backed by a choir, isn’t facing the audience and can’t sing “Hello Dolly.” She does get the lead as Scrooge and that cheers her padded pasties enough. Deaf Bob Cratchit (Maltin) finger signs his demands for a day off and Scrooge retires to his bed chamber where he’s visited by the ghosts of Stardom Past (Cher) Stardom Present (Lucille Ball /Miss Sammy) and Stardom Future (Barbara Streisand / Miss Sammy). Will little Liza Tim survive, or be hustled off to rehab heaven? Will Scrooge transform into the unctuous and sappy holiday icon we loathe or will he retain some capitalist backbone and stand up to the workers demands? How many ways can we possibly end this show?

Given that there only the mildest hint of Christmas curry here, the chance to see Orlando’s top dragsters make this worth the walk though the P-house parking lot. Miss Sammy holds the top honors for actually looking like the film icons of the past. Doug Ba’aser did the heavy funny lifting, both as the deaf actress and the master puppeteer of Scrooges childhood. Gidget Galore sang “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” and Doug White was a hysterical Big Bird. There’s just enough of a thumbnail of the orginal story and a mercifully merciless adaptation to flush all those straight laced version that your mom would enjoy out of your head. This show lifted my spirits enormously, and I didn’t even stop by the bar.

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