Monday, December 17, 2012

Theatre: ECSETATS (One Heck of an Acronym!)

Last evening I had the pleasure of traveling to Martinsburg, WV to see my BFF Tod in a production of "Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then some)". Well, the travel wasn't a pleasure, lot's of highway construction and crazy drivers. But the show was delightful.

The show is as jam-packed as the poster

I had never experienced this particular show and Tod wouldn't even let me help him learn his lines because he wanted it to not be spoiled for me. In the space of what seemed to be a half hour, they managed to stuff every Christmas story I could think of into a very tight stocking. The audience was catapulted from Dickens to Grinch to Charlie Brown like so many flying reindeer. Or as they're referred to in the play "Reingoats". (some sort of licensing issue)

Tod was joined onstage by Diana Jurand and Tim Eichelberger, both of which gave amazing performances. Ms. Jurand is nothing short of a master at accents. So much so that when an Australian accent popped out of her mouth I was surprised, but probably shouldn't have been considering the round-the-world trip she had taken us on throughout the evening. When Mr. Eichelberger stepped to the front of the stage, gently pulled a blue blanket out his pocket and proceeded to deliver Linus' christmas speech from "It's Christmas Charlie Brown" I was moved to tears. It's no surprise that he played most, if not all, of the children's roles in the show. His honesty on stage and sheer innocence was of clear effect on the audience.

What can I say about my BFF Tod that won't be construed as blowing sunshine up his a*s? Well, the show begins as a production of "A Christmas Carol" before it starts it's merry race through the Christmas Story Canon (at first to Tod's characters chagrin). I really enjoyed watching the transformation of his character as he eventually throws himself in the frivolity. When the voice of Jimmy Stewart popped out of his mouth in the form of George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life" I was giddy with laughter as was the rest of the audience. Still, I have to say I would really like to see him perform the entire roll of Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" some day.

All in all it was a solid production. That can probably be attributed greatly to it's director, DC Cathro. Not everyone can weave a coherent production out of so much chaos. I can only imagine what things backstage look like for this show. I'm thinking it's something akin to "Noises Off" where the backstage drama of quick changes, running actors and shear panic is practically as entertaining as what is happening onstage. Kudos to the crew for keeping it running smoothly, or at least making it appear to the audience that what is happening onstage is what is supposed to be happening.

This will mark the 4th (I think) show I have been to at the Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg. I have been quite impressed with their work. Even "1776"! It's a show I hate and their production didn't make me hate it less, but I did really enjoy the experience. The rest of their season includes "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", "High School Reunion, the Musical" and "Hello Dolly!" I would highly recommend checking out any or all of those performances out for yourself.

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