LOCAL THEATER: ‘Iggy Scrooge’ Rocks at Times, but He’s Singing the Same Old ‘Carol’
Some technical difficulty here in The Sungeon is preventing me from posting a review of CSTOCK ’s "The Salvation of Iggy Pop " (which we previewed online last week and in the Nov. 28 print edition of Kitsap A&E) last night, right after I attended the Nov. 29 performance. In the meantime, we’ll use the blog thingie and find out if there’s anybody out there this morning that still doesn’t have a CK Football Hangover:
By Michael C. MooreMMOORE@KITSAPSUN.COM
When I was in sixth grade, at Cascade Elementary School in Marysville, we talked our teacher, Mrs. Swalling, into letting us do a class play for our Christmas party, before she hauled out the autoharp for carols.
She gave us 10 minutes to do our version of “A Christmas Carol, Starring Paul Revere and the Raiders” — I played Mark Lindsay , to enthusiastic reviews, especially my lead vocal on “Christmas (Just Keeps Gettin’ Harder to Find).” We didn’t have much to work with — just a record player, the “Greatest Hits” LP and some “guitars” cut out of cardboard.
But we thought it went pretty well. Then we had cupcakes.
Why am I telling you this? To make a point, doggone it.
The point is, just about everybody — even in outposts as remote as Marysville — has had a crack at re-inventing the Charles Dickens classic, in which Ebenezer Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas, and saves his own miserable carcass in the process.
The list of actors who’ve played Scrooge in one version or another is longer than Scrooge’s and Marley’s chains welded together. I mean, Tori Freakin’ Spelling played a character based on Scrooge (“A Carol Christmas,” 2003; look it up).
What I’m trying to say, in this little end-run of a preamble-ramble, is that there are a lot of adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” and some of them are better than others. Some do a better job presenting the story and the moral, in their own way, and some even have a little nuance to add.
“The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge ,” the 1990s, post-grunge revisionist version written by Seattle actors Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee , with music by Edd Key , never will be one of my favorites. And, while the production currently being mounted at CSTOCK under the direction of John Jensen is a game and courageous effort, with bonus points for chutzpah, it doesn’t do much to elevate the material.
There’s not much it can do. If there’s ever been a "been there, done that" play, this is it (Tori Spelling , people).
Some of the ideas and lines — having the spirits who visit Scrooge represented by old rock stars, or having Marley be late for “lunch with Hitler,” f’rinstances — are pretty funny, and some of the songs sound like they could stand on their own. In general, though, the book of “Iggy” is an awkward jumble of ’90s rock-speak and Dickens’ original prose, which really doesn’t have much of anything to add to Plan A.
As for my personal evening at the Silverdale Community Center, the first thing I can think to say is this: “I can’t get the smell out of my clothes.”
No, no, no; step away from the e-mail. I’m not talking about the show. I’m talking about the cigarette smoke from the intermission. Fool that I am, I thought I could wander across the parking lot and stow a Trop’s chockie in the glove box for my daughter, without being coated by Second-Hand Extra-Smelly, With a Touch of Menthol. But, noooo.
So I smelled — not the show. Wasn’t my favorite show, but odor needn’t be an issue.
I did have issues, both physical and technical. To make too big a deal of them, though, wouldn’t be entirely fair. The show I saw (Nov. 29, Night Two of the run) was played out in the slackest house I’ve ever seen at CSTOCK, and the energy level was fractional. It’s hard to do what amounts to a rock show under those conditions, and I think it would be a better show with a fuller house.
Still, the acting was generally quite thin, and Larson and Lee’s lyrics often were unintelligible, the result of acoustic voices backed by an electric band. Some of the characters wore mics, but they seldom worked, and though Don Olson (playing Iggy) sang his opening number into a mic, you could barely hear a word.
When I could hear him, I thought Olson acquitted himself well in general, bravely tackling the burned-out, hardened rock star Iggy (I can think of a few real-life burned-out rock stars who don’t sound any better). He managed some pretty effective vocal moments, particularly on a ballad about his lost love, Belle.
But the man of the match in Jensen’s multitasking little cast (including band members and a couple of recruits from the stage crew, who I think might’ve been covering for illnesses or absences of some other sort) had to be Friedrich Schlott , who handled three roles and supplied the ensemble with its best voice. Whether playing the self-torturing nun Sister Bull Imaculata; the affable watchman Oscar (replete with “Fargo” accent, offering Iggy a “battle of pap”) or the Ghost of Christmas Present, played as Elvis with a gold lame cape and a loaf of hair, the deadpan Schlott was consistently funny.
There were other good voices on display to varying degrees, too. The glorious pipes of Trina Williamson , who played the multiple keyboard voices in the band, only were audible a few times singing backup, and Megan Markle (as Tiny Tina Cratchit) got to sing all of one solo line — and that was post-mortem, poor kid.
High marks to music director Mark Jackson , who played guitar throughout, as well as singing and playing in Spook Costume for one number and pickin’ a mandolin for another. You could tell he’s done the rock musician thing a time or three.
The stage itself was efficiently set up, with a bandstand at the back and other scenes popping on and off, sometimes emerging from beneath said bandstand. And then there was the hot tub — when Iggy was dunked by a couple of spectres (Brianne Gray and Jessica Rothwell ), he came up genuinely wet.
But in "Iggy Scrooge" — and, indeed, in the vast pantheon of "Christmas Carol" re-dos — the best ideas still come directly from Dickens.
‘The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge’
Who: Central Stage Theatre of County Kitsap (CSTOCK)
What: Musical comedy by Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee (book and lyrics) and Edd Key (music), based on "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Where: Silverdale Community Center, 9729 Silverdale Way NW
When: Through Dec. 21: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $15 to $10
Information: (360) 692-9940, http://www.cstock.org/shows/the-salvation-of-iggy-scrooge-2008/