The holy location of The Devil’s Christmas Carol [Mt.Vernon United Methodist Church]wasn’t enough to save this project from eternal damnation. God, the irony.
The Devil’s Christmas Carol puts a new twist on Dickens’ classic story, and though the description of the show seemed very enticing, the performance and script hardly live up to expectations. We meet our characters in Hell, where most of them are players in Hell’s production of A Christmas Carol. The less-than-confident actors wander around stage, craning their heads to hear cues (which are frequently missed) from the pre-recorded accompaniment synthesized on a keyboard.
As the trite plot points are revealed, I wondered if I was watching the soap opera version of A Christmas Carol. The actor who always plays Tiny Tim is reunited with his daughter after a series of melodramatic lines and pauses (who would’ve thought it was the girl with the gimp leg?! Must run in the family), and many cast members are left wondering why such a demure girl is wandering the depths of Hell. As with any good soap opera, there is a hidden romance developing between Scrooge (who is a woman), and another character, Fred. The two serenade each other with a love ballad whose lyrics fall short of creative, and whose repetition was so frequent that I had almost learned the words myself by the time they were done (this held true for many of the musical numbers). Over all, the script and characters lacked depth, the lyrics were repetitive, and the cast seemed to be half-heartedly going through the motions of their blocking and choreography.
However, two actors deserve recognition for their spunk and energy: Zachary Pinkham, who plays the Director, and Kayla Dixon (Gabriela, Tiny Tim’s daughter). Both of these young actors carried confidence with them on stage, and were a delight to experience. Pinkham plays a hustling director who is frustrated with his dysfunctional cast. He is both energetic, and demanding of attention. He brings much-needed comic relief to Christmas Carol, overshadowing (and rightfully so) his lackluster cast mates. In addition, the delicate Miss Dixon displays impressive vocal control for a young teenager, and she stands out with her pure voice, and obvious enjoyment of the limelight. These young performers are the guardian angels in this Hadean musical, temporarily distracting the audience from the clichéd playwriting.
However, hat’s off to the OutOfTheBlackBox Theatre Company for taking a risk on this new musical. Just, next time, don’t make a deal with the Devil. He’s not known for favorable outcomes.