It’s a story we all know by heart: Over the course of successive evenings, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who teach him the meaning of Christmas. But Richmond Triangle Players’ version of “A Christmas Carol” is no familiar ritual.
It’s show time at England’s Royal Music Hall and most of “A Christmas Carol’s” 20-person cast has been stricken with food poisoning. The only ones left to tell the tale are the aging ingénue Lottie Obbligato (Steven Boschen), character actor Charlie Schmaltz (Kirk Morton) and male impersonator Vesta Virile (Lauren Leinhaas-Cook). The result is a lot of fun.
“Scrooge in Rouge: an English Music Hall Christmas Carol,” reprises the cast from Triangle’s 2009 production — and Shon M. Stacy’s direction doesn’t miss a comedic beat. From Boschen’s bawdy malapropisms to Leinhaas-Cook’s eye-rolling straight man to Morton’s dandyish Bob Cratchit, the trio makes me laugh so hard my face hurts.
While all three are hilarious, it’s Boschen’s work that steals the evening. Mishearing the Crachits as “crab cakes,” jumping into falsetto and always demanding to be the center of attention, Boschen’s Lottie is the kind of comedic creation you see only a few times a season.
Though his role is mainly behind the keys, jazz musician and comedic rapper Macon “McChicken” Mann does good work backing the trio on piano as they race through such zany numbers as “Hi! Ho” and the vacation song “Beside the Shiny Briny Sea.”
David A. McLain’s minimal Victorian-era set design works well for the proceedings, with a portion added to the stage to help facilitate audience interaction. Costumes for a comedy like this sometimes take the back burner, but Thomas W. Hammond’s design is period-inspired and sometimes intentionally ill-fitting to underscore how actors are playing unintended roles.
The script, by Ricky Graham with help from Jeffrey Roberson and Yvette Hargis, is side-splittingly funny, packed with zingers, intentionally bad jokes, running gags, double-entendres and a surprising amount of wit.
If you’re tired of seeing another predictable staging of a holiday classic, check out “Scrooge in Rouge.” It’s a romp that should become an annual tradition. S
“Scrooge in Rouge” plays through Dec. 17 at the Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Ave. For information, visit rtriangle.org or call 346-8113.