Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Everything Xmas at BCT


Teresa Chrisinger conjures frosty.
Photo by Ammon Riley.

Beaverton Civic Theatre tells “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)"  

By Tina Arth and Darrell Baker
“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” is the last show in Beaverton Civic Theatre’s ambitious 2012 season, and the opening night performance demonstrated how successful BCT has been in developing a supportive audience base.

The show is a fast-paced, frenetic take-off of Christmas-themed entertainment in general, and “A Christmas Carol” in particular. While traditionally done with a three-man cast, director Tony Bump expanded his ensemble to six, and as hard as they all worked, it’s difficult to imagine pulling it off with the smaller cast.

The cast and crew. Photo by Ammon Riley.
The lights come up on a wildly melodramatic first scene from “A Christmas Carol,” but a few of the actors (including Marley’s corpse), jaded by the drudgery of endless productions, rebel and insist on doing something – anything – different. After a quick survey of audience preferences, they launch (over the objections of two die-hard traditionalists) into a first-act comic collage of Xmas artistry including The Grinch, Frosty, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, and Rudolph (the “Green-Nosed /Goat” – don’t want to anger the copyright gods!). Having promised that Scrooge would appear in Act II, the cast (sort of) delivers with a hilarious counterpoint tale intermixing Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

The show requires audience participation, and the enthusiasm of the opening-night crowd guaranteed success on that score. The full-house rocked with infectious laughter in response to the comedic skills of the cast, delivering a bright and memorable opening to the holiday season.

Scott Kelly in one of his many roles.
Photo by Ammon Riley.
While the show does not require a lot of singing, someone (presumably the director) had the forethought to select a cast capable of delivering holiday songs with sophisticated harmonies – a detail sometimes overlooked in community theater!

As is often the case with well-balanced ensemble shows, it is difficult to single out individual performances. However, Scott Kelly, Kraig Williams, and Stan Yeend were given some of the funniest bits, and all three delivered with uninhibited abandon. It’s not fair, but it’s a fact of life that a man in drag is funnier than a woman in pants! In particular, Yeend occasionally captures an enigmatic W. C. Fields-like presence that really enhances his performance. Despite the comedic disadvantage of their gender (ironic that the women should be cast as the straight men!) Teresa Chrisinger, Jennifer Johnson, and Doreen Lundberg more than carry their own weight while supporting their male counterparts.

It’s quite a stretch for any theater company to go from the magic of “Camelot” to a Christmas farce in six short weeks, and we are both impressed and delighted that BCT is bringing such a rich variety of live theater to Washington County. By all means make the effort to see this show, and keep your eyes peeled for the 2013 schedule of this young and vital group.

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some)” runs through Saturday, December 15th at the Beaverton City Library Auditorium. For ticket information, see beavertoncivictheatre.org

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