2007-11-02 / Community

RTC's 'Inspecting Carol' Is Pure Holiday Mayhem

A Wave Review

Most of us are familiar with Charles Dickens' great holiday classic "A Christmas Carol". Perhaps we read it in school. Perhaps we've seen one of the wonderful old film versions of the classic parable of a penny-pinching holiday-hater who learns the true spirit of Christmas after getting a frightful look at his life during a Christmas Eve visit from three supernatural visitors. Or maybe we've seen the charming musical version of the story which is presented annually at Radio City Music Hall. To those of you who are up for seeing another traditional presentation of this timeless tale, the Rockaway Theatre Company would like to say, "BAH HUMBUG!" However, if you would like to usher in the season with a somewhat offbeat take on the story which will have you laughing until it hurts, then you must head up to the Post Theater and catch one of the opening weekend performances of "Inspecting Carol."

"Inspecting Carol" was written by Daniel Sullivan, the great stage director best known for his work with the Seattle Repertory Theatre Company, where the show debuted. It is the hilarious story of a small Midwestern theater company beginning rehearsals for their tired annual production of A Christmas Carol. The production's four-day rehearsal schedule is looking woefully inadequate and company accountant, Kelli Emery, has just informed director Zorah Bloch that low ticket sales have left them on the verge of bankruptcy. To make matters even worse, the National Endowment for the Arts is considering pulling its $30,000 grant due to "significant artistic deficit," and plans to send an inspector, who may, or may not, reveal his or her true identity while investigating the company. With things already looking as bleak as Dickens' London, the situation is further compounded when a theatrical dabbler and all-around nerd is mistakenly taken for The Inspector. The ensuing comedy of errors and hysterical highjinks lead to a multicultural, politically correct production of A Christmas Carol with a not so tiny Tiny Tim weakly exclaiming, "God bless us... everyone!"

The credit for this inspired production goes to the excellent directing team of Page and Wotypka, who gave us the blockbuster production of Steel Magnolias earlier this season. In order to be sure that this wonderful script is given the treatment it deserves, an incredible cast of veteran RTC comic actors has been assembled. Director Zorah Bloch is played by Susan Corning, with Helen Berman as MJ, her surly stage director. Wayne Wellacre, the "all-around nerd" is artfully played by method actor, David Risley. The role of the company's accountant is assumed by the RTC's real-life bookkeeper, Catherine McEntee. The remaining members of the stage company consist of Nicholas Compagnone, Rob Fahn, James Francis, Chazmond J. Peacock, Steven Peithman, Jai Sada and Lori Santopetro, all of whom have garnered rave reviews in various RTC productions earlier in the season. As for the role of Betty Andrews, the actual NEA Inspector...that depends on which performance you happen to attend. This role will be assumed by a different surprise actor at each performance. Who knows? The inspector might even be someone you know. It's all part of the fun.

The show will run for three consecutive weekends at the Post Theater in Fort Tilden. It opens on Friday evening at 8 p.m. with additional performances on Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17 at 8 p.m. There will also be two matinee performances on Nov. 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. Good seats are still available and can be reserved by calling the RTC hotline at 718-850-2450, but don't delay, as tickets are going very quickly. "Inspecting Carol" has been called a "Merry mixture of 'The Inspector General' and 'Noises Off'". If you saw RTC's production of Noises Off last season, come prepared for what may be an even funnier evening of farcical fare as the Rockaway Theatre Company proudly presents "Inspecting Carol", the wackiest "play within a play" ever staged in modern theater.

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