Double Dickens

Dickens Village at Night - photo by Kevin Dooley

Last Friday night I rounded off my month-long celebration of Christmas by treating myself to two interpretations of Charles Dickens’ classic story. 

First I drove downtown to West Washington Street to see the family-friendly “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Tom Haas and directed by Priscilla Lindsay, at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  It closes this afternoon.  Then I drove to Comedy Sportz on Massachusetts Avenue to see the closing performance of their late-night, adults-only improv show, “A Christmas Carol Unscripted.”

Each show was enjoyable in its own way, and together they made for a satisfying transition from enjoying Christmas season proper to (as Scrooge says to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) honouring Christmas in my heart and keeping it all the year. 

The first show warmed my heart.  The other exercised it.

I am sorry that I won’t have time to write a full review of either show.  This was my second year to see the IRT’s iconic show, the tenth for Chuck Goad to play Scrooge in it.  He was even more wonderful this year – his acting is so subtle! so richly nuanced! – and the show as a whole was beautiful and moving, just as I had expected it to be.  I wrote about my first time for IndianaAuditions.com here, but it was fun to see it with several new supporting actors, too.

This was my first time going to Comedy Sportz other than for an Indy Fringe show.  I thought I would get to see Claire Wilcher perform but apparently there is a large staff of comedians that take turns doing the late-night improvs.  More than thirty local entertainers have Comedy Sportz menu items named after them.  Since I couldn’t see Wilcher in person, I drank a Coors Lite in her honor instead.

I was surprised and delighted to find Michael Davis in Friday night’s group of six.  I met him last summer when he was running tech for the Indy Fringe.  I didn’t realize, or had forgotten, that he was a year-round member of the Comedy Sportz team.

It says something about his inherent attractiveness that even while he was standing on stage wearing a too-big stone-washed denim jacket and athletic socks, pretending to be Tiny Tim and talking about the pustules of his bacne (back acne), that I still was thinking “yum.” 

And laughing a lot.  All six (seven, counting the announcer/sound effects guy up in his mini-loft) of that night’s improv artists were a hoot.  They incorporated both written and shouted suggestions from the audience.  “Instead of being a money lender, Scrooge was a…?”  “Hit man!”  They played off each other, and us, in a highly energetic, creative way that left me pleasantly exhausted from laughing.  I’m sorry I can’t tell you all of their names.

I fell asleep as soon as I got home and woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to go.  Seeing this Dickens double-header was a great way to end my own Christmas season and move into the new year.

Speaking of which, at intermission at the IRT I ran into David Hochoy, artistic director and choreographer for Dance Kaleidoscope.  He had choreographed the quirky, intriguing dance segments for “Carol” this year as well.  I am looking forward to seeing his and DK’s “Magical Mystery Tour” in January.  It runs January 8-11, 2009.

In the meantime, as you know if you read my blog regularly, I am working away at my own project: a new storytelling piece for adults called “Of the People: Stories and Images of Abraham Lincoln.”  It will premiere at the Indiana History Center on Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 4:00. 

It is part of the Sharing Hoosier History through Stories collaboration between the Indiana Historical Society and Storytelling Arts of Indiana.  Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.  To buy advance tickets, please call 317-232-1882 or visit this page of the Storytelling Arts website.

And yes, I will be reminding you of it every time I post between now and January 18.  I hope you can come!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

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