The Community Theatre League is gearing up for its Christmastime comedy, "Inspecting Carol," which will play at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8 and 13 through 15, and at 2 p.m. Dec. 16.
Mix together a struggling theater company, a tired production of "A Christmas Carol," a really bad actor and a visiting inspector from the National Endowment for the Arts, and you end up with "Inspecting Carol," the off-the-wall holiday farce. Everything that could possibly go wrong does as a fictitious theater company struggles to mount its annual production of the holiday classic.
Bad theater has never been this much fun before.
Kathleen Houser, Trey Fox, Larry Rhinehart, Keith Wagner and Davena McCabe are seen rehearsing for the Community Theatre League’s upcoming performance of “Inspecting Carol,”?which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, and 13 through 15 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 16.
Daniel Sullivan and the Seattle Repertory Company created "Inspecting Carol" as an antidote to the endless parade of annual productions of "A Christmas Carol."
As it developed, the piece also grew into a satiric look at government funding for the arts and how it affects the organizations that receive it.
The insanity begins when the company members of a small regional theater mistake a neophyte (and very bad) actor as an inspector from the National Endowment for the Arts. In order to hold onto their funding, the company does everything possible to keep this person happy, including casting him in their production of "A Christmas Carol" and letting him rewrite large sections of the story. When the real inspector shows up, the company is forced to perform what can charitably be called the worst production ever of the Dickens' classic.
The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future forget their lines, Bob Cratchit throws out his back trying to carry Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley gets tangled in his chains, Mrs. Cratchit becomes a vampy sex kitten, Scrooge begins to speak his lines in Spanish to protest U.S. policy in Central America and the stage manager is stricken with an uncontrollable fit of the giggles all before things really begin to go wrong.
Director Leanne Brown has helmed the ensemble cast of veteran CTL performers who bring their own wacky qualities to the various characters. The cast includes Davena McCabe, Jim Carpenter, Miki Rebeck, Trey Fox, Kathleen Houser, Larry Rhinehart, Nick Buckman, David Henderson, Brian McKeon as the regular Soapbox Players. Add in Beau Schemery, Keith Wagner and Marie Fox, and you have one the most entertaining groups of aspiring actors - pretending to be aspiring actors.
Jason Moyer, CTL's artistic director of plays, said the play is one of the funniest holiday offerings CTL has ever had. Although there isn't a lot of the play 'A Christmas Carol' re-enacted in the show, it is talked about constantly.
"The main scenes rehearsed take place in the Crachit living room or are the scenes where the ghosts visit Scrooge. These are probably the funniest and most familiar," he said. "Since everyone knows the story, the process of the actors talking about it and planning the scenes brings the audience in mind of the real thing."
Moyer said, "Many of the scenes build up to the actual running of 'A Christmas Carol' during the second half of 'Inspecting Carol.' Everything ultimately goes wrong and turns into pandemonium, as props fail, sets fall apart and actors get so distracted that they can't remember their lines. It's a free-for-all of chaos by the time it's over."
One of the funniest moments in the show is when Dorothy (who is a self-appointed accent coach - because she's British and Dickens wrote in "her native tongue") puts the cast through a warm-up exercise before rehearsal. Her methods are highly unorthodox and hysterical to watch and played to the hilt by Kathleen Houser.
Tickets for "Inspecting Carol" are $15 for adults and $8 for students and are available at www.ctlshows.com or by calling 327-1777, weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.