By T.M. STRAIT Play Critic
There is one thing I must say. You need to go and see this play. WACT has given the perfect reason, to happily launch this blessed season.
Some of the best things are mash-ups, like when two different traditions blend together. As Donny and Marie Osmond sang “a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll.” The Waycross Area Community Theatre’s brilliant holiday season starter, “A Suessified Christmas Carol” is just that, a funny and spirited mash-up of Charles Dickens and Dr. Suess (although some of the characters colorfully spend much of the time denying that this is so).
It plays this weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 and a Sunday matinee at 2:30) and next week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8) at the Ritz.
The play is outstanding, with superior acting from top to bottom. The set is incredible, really pulling us into this fanciful world. The hard-working set designers and crew deserve gusty kudos and a special round of applause. The director, Rhonda Robbins, did a brilliant job in pulling all the elements together to make this an extra special show.
One of the great things about community theater is how, in these big productions, whole families can participate. My most treasured moments in theater have come when I have been in productions with my son. The cast contains four members of the Finn family, including Patrick Finn in a funny and entertaining version of Bob Cratchit, with a special vocal interpretation you have to hear to believe.
There are four members of the Bazemore family, including Emily Bazemore as a hip and engaging Ghost of Christmas Past. My favorite mother/daughter duo, Kimberly and Emily Beck, are charming in the play, with Kimberly playing a fourth-wall breaking Mrs. Cratchit.
But my favorite family connection was that of Brenda Luke and her grand-daughter, Tabitha Carter. What an extra special thing it was to see these two work so wonderfully together as the narrators of the play. Having great narrators is sometimes forgotten in local theater, but not in this one. They stand out as compelling figures who you look forward to coming onstage and cleverly spinning the yarn forward. I imagine for Brenda this is one of the great moments of her life, being able to act so closely with her gifted grand-daughter. And when you see it, it will be for you as well.
There are so many others I was impressed with, it’s difficult to mention them all. Some of my favorites included the always pitch-perfect Brittany Peacock in several roles, an amazing Rem Farr as Bed-Head Fred, Rihanna Herrin playing a delightful Little Fan (Scrooge’s sister), Isaiah Rick as the most mod version of Marley you have ever seen, and young Christopher Kuhbander, deftly performing multiple roles.
No version of A Christmas Carol, even a Suessified one, would work without a great Scrooge at its center. This play has found one in Eli Varnadore. He plays it perfectly, with snarl and wit. His transformation is marvelous to watch, and he brings to life the remarkable core of this story — that we have the power within each of us to make this a better world for everyone around us.
So don’t just hang around! To the theater you must bound! Call for your reservations (283-2161) today. You really must see this play!
Merry Christmas to all! God bless us, each and everyone!
See you at the Ritz!
By T.M. STRAIT Play Critic