July 16, 2024


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ACT’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Scott Shoemaker’s War on Xmas!’ provide vacation-clearly show spirit to your households this calendar year

Theater assessments

Welcome to the strangest holiday season! As we cozy up in our quarantine outposts for isolated holiday celebrations, much of Seattle’s theater group has rallied as a result of hardship to make our socially distanced holidays a tiny merrier. There are so quite a few virtual vacation exhibits to take pleasure in from the finest seat in your residence this 12 months below are two of them.

‘A Christmas Carol’

Piper Harden played Tiny Tim in ACT’s “A Christmas Carol” in 2019. She’s reprising her role this year in ACT’s radio-play-style production. (Rosemary DaiRoss)
Piper Harden performed Tiny Tim in ACT’s “A Christmas Carol” in 2019. She’s reprising her role this yr in ACT’s radio-perform-design and style creation. (Rosemary DaiRoss)

Scrooge grumbles on to the scene with a cranky “Cratchit! You are late” and can make his ultimate exit at the end of the enjoy as a modified person, laughing “giddy as a drunken person.”

As a novella, enjoy, ballet, film and, at least after, a mime manufacturing, “A Xmas Carol” has long been the beloved holiday break story that reminds us that men and women, even greedy anti-getaway curmudgeons, can improve. In actuality, it reminds us that they will adjust as we’re throttled by life’s situation — like, say, a carousel experience as a result of time with a handful of quirky ghosts. Or, perhaps, a year beset by pandemic, murder hornets, national protests and epically lengthy elections …

With the pandemic holding Seattle’s theaters closed to are living audiences, ACT Theatre’s 45th annual output of “A Xmas Carol” has had to endure some changes, way too, going from the stage to our living rooms as a radio-design and style engage in. There are no elaborate costumes, no 10-moment dance scenes, no ghosts springing out of phase lure doors, no carolers outside the theater.

In their spot are a new character — the narrator (voiced by Nathaniel Tenenbaum) — the luxurious of a pause button and cautiously crafted audio outcomes that carry the story to everyday living.

Sneakers shuffling throughout a wooden flooring and the audio of cheerful chatter approximate what would have been an exuberant dance sequence. The sporadic crackle of a feeble fire provides us into the cold room at Scrooge and Marley’s Counting Home, a seem we would not have heard in the stage output. The disembodied hollow breath of an ominous spirit guidebook echoing in your ears chills you in techniques that remind you this is also a ghost story. 

Minimal is shed in the play’s changeover from phase to audio. It is still vibrantly acted and the soundscape (audio layout by Sharath Patel) is prosperous ample to account for even the dullest creativeness. Incorporate in a cup of sizzling chocolate, some cozy socks and possibly a Zoom phone with your family and the tone is set for a concurrently extra intimate yet socially distant holiday break. 

As well as, like your beloved vacation tracks, you can pay attention as numerous times as you want although it’s on the internet. 

What to hear for: 

  • Audio designer Patel explained what he phone calls “Easter eggs” he included into the audio design, like obtaining an actor maintain his hand in excess of the mic although squeezing a tension ball to get a specific heartbeat sound. 
  • Tenenbaum as Narrator is a lot more of a confidante sharing in the story together the way than a detached narrator telling you what transpires when. 
  • Jeff Steitzer carries Scrooge correctly, from disgruntled previous fart to a guy delirious with newfound goodwill, with this kind of exciting and partaking voice operate. 

“A Christmas Carol” from ACT Theatre: Streams online by way of Dec. 27 tickets get started at $25 acttheatre.org

— Crystal Paul

‘Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas!

The light, mildly sacrilegious holiday revue “Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas!” had been a recent holiday tradition at Re-bar. This year it streams online featuring, clockwise from left, Mandy Price, Waxie Moon, Faggety Randy, Scott Shoemaker and Adé. (Bronwen Houck Photography)
The light-weight, mildly sacrilegious getaway revue “Scott Shoemaker’s War on Christmas!” experienced been a modern holiday break custom at Re-bar. This year it streams on the internet showcasing, clockwise from still left, Mandy Price, Waxie Moon, Faggety Randy, Scott Shoemaker and Adé. (Bronwen Houck Images)

Meet up with Scott Shoemaker, a bearded, jolly, Christmas-loving fella who just needs to get his showbiz close friends collectively for a sweet, religion-cost-free Yuletide revue of track and dance and jokes like they’ve been carrying out at Re-bar since 2018.

But situation are conspiring from him. Coordinating a socially distanced show is tricky and, more importantly, his 4 pals (boylesque icon Waxie Moon, singer/improv performer Mandy Price tag, dancer Faggety Randy, singer/drag performer Adé) just aren’t that into it, for a selection of good reasons. Waxie is like a bilious judge from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” preferring to trim his tree far from the shabby tastes of his good friends, Randy is an occultist who’d relatively be consuming goblets of very hot blood and internet hosting pagan orgies, and so on. (Factors, of training course, take care of in the end.)

The old “I’m-hoping-to-have-a-great-Christmas-but-the-planet-is-generating-it-difficult” gambit is familiar — dating back at the very least 2,020 a long time — but it’s durable and evergreen, a bare tree waiting around to be decorated with bits and gags.

Shoemaker squeezes dim pleasurable out of the pandemic, like a rewrite of the 1963 Phil Spector/Darlene Appreciate typical “Christmas (Toddler Make sure you Arrive Home)”: “Stay in your four walls / Or we will not have Christmas at all / Then once more, if we all obtain in close proximity to / we may possibly not have to purchase as a lot of provides following calendar year.”

The display, as normal, is cheerful, light and mildly sacrilegious. (It’s not a “war” on Christmas so a great deal as a handful of blithe pokes at the spiritual appropriate.) Shoemaker leans into the awkwardness of streaming theater with specifics like the Digital Validator 5000™, a machine that generates viewers responses: laughter, gasps and “the a person lady who’s definitely amazed.” (That is amusing — lots of audiences have that “one girl,” and the VV5000™’s hilariously honest “oh wow!” sounds like it was recorded in the subject.)

Of all the forces conspiring to retain the present down, Shoemaker doesn’t point out the most critical and long-time period bummer: 30-yr-outdated Re-bar, that beloved “theater squatting in a disco,” closed in May possibly, a different casualty of the pandemic. Re-bar was the club that introduced a thousand drag queens, incubated cultural treasures (Dina Martina, DJ Riz Rollins, a legendary manufacturing of “Hedwig and the Offended Inch,” lots of a lot more) and aided delivery Shoemaker initiatives “War on Christmas” and “Ms. Pak-Male.” In a May Facebook submit, Re-bar promised its resurrection somewhere in South Seattle — but the first, hallowed floor is absent.

It’s likely just as nicely “War” did not jangle its jingle by bringing that up. As Shoemaker says: “What is Xmas if not an escape from reality?”

“Scott Shoemaker’s War on Xmas!”: Streams on the internet by means of Jan. 4 tickets commence at $10 boldtypetickets.com

— Brendan Kiley