It’s a glittery, outrageous night of holiday fun in Boulder
What happens when you mix Broadway show tunes with a holiday classic? In the University of Colorado’s rendition of A Broadway Christmas Carol, you end up with a show that’s every bit as funny and bizarre as it is cheerful and heartwarming.
In a playful twist on Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, creator Kathy Feininger moves beyond the familiar story to deliver a musical spectacle through parodies of Broadway hits. Memorable songs spoofed from Chicago, Wicked, The Little Mermaid, and dozens more intermingle with tap dancing and jazz hands to get you in the holiday spirit, albeit strangely.
A fresh take on a time-honored story
Despite the musical spin, the plot is essentially the same as Dickens’s original tale: An old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge (Kyle Lawrence), selfish and mean to boot, is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve who ultimately help him change his ways.
The ghosts just look a little different this time around.
The Ghost of Christmas Past (Kees Nachbahr), our first spirit, enters the stage as a disheveled Santa Claus with twigs (or is it a bird’s nest?) in his hair. This Santa, floor-length beard and all, guides Scrooge through his past and shows him how greed destroyed the relationships he once cultivated.
The Ghost of Christmas Present (Stephanie Saltis) appears next to give Scrooge insight into the struggles endured by those around him. The kicker? This spirit just happens to be an actual Christmas present in candy-stripe tights.
Finally, we meet the Ghost of Christmas Future (Bennet Forsyth) who is part grim reaper, part Phantom of the Opera.
Somehow, through song and dance, Scrooge sees the evil in his uncharitable ways and vows to live life a changed man. And he does, becoming the ultimate philanthropist on Christmas day and beyond.
Song, dance, and costume changes galore
In only 90 minutes, A Broadway Christmas Carol runs through more than 40 songs, keeping its cast of CU Theatre and Dance students busy. The performers’ enthusiasm at what the show demands — singing, dancing, acting, and, except for Scrooge, playing multiple roles — is obvious and encourages the audience to join in on the fun. Supporting this song and dance is a lone piano man (Adam C. Ewing, also musical director), who, from the corner of the stage delivers excellent accompaniment. On opening night, the audience kept clapping along to the jam-packed performance.
Melissa Zaremba’s choreography, which includes time step, classic Fosse, and ballet, adds an additional layer of wacky fun to the show. When Scrooge starts tap dancing ,you realize that you can’t take this show, or yourself too seriously. The choreography is well executed and even shines through characters like Fred (Scrooge’s nephew) and the Chandelier (yes, you read that correctly), both portrayed by Eric Gaydon.
If this wasn’t enough to declare A Broadway Christmas Carol a true whirlwind, add in the multitude of costume changes and you’ve got a glittery, outrageous show on your hands. Designed by Ted Stark and his assistants, Katie Lennon and Mimi Kuntz, the costumes succeed in bringing the whole extravaganza together. Starting with simple patterned dresses and dull-colored suits, Stark and team succeed in wowing you with costumes introduced later in the show. Whether a larger-than-life dress that lights up, a wearable lighting fixture, or outfits for an ugly-sweater themed college party, A Broadway Christmas Carol delivers a unique suite of costumes that complement the whimsical nature of the show itself.
While A Broadway Christmas Carol arrives at the same point as Dicken’s original, there’s a lot more laughter and foot tapping along the way. If you’re game for a performance that pulls out all the stops and want to support local student theatre like this CU alum, this show is ready to put you in the holiday spirit. It may just be in a slightly more ridiculous manner than Dicken’s originally intended.