World Premiere at Theatre B Takes Chances, Prevails
Published: Monday, December 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 14:12
Producing a world premiere has been quite the creative process for the folks of Theatre B. For weeks leading up to the first-ever performance of its current holiday show “Scrooge Macbeth,” the production underwent numerous tweaks and revisions.
Playwright David MacGregor even came to town twice to assist in the production process, and this close collaboration has produced a show that is as festive as ever for the Christmas season.
“Scrooge Macbeth” finds its characters—four community theater actors—scrambling to save their holiday show and theater from utter ruin following the hospitalization of the six other cast members for food poisoning. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, married couples Bob and Sylvia and Victor and Renee scheme to figure out what to do when a bright idea hits: lump together this year’s Shakespeare with last year’s “A Christmas Carol.”
Scenes of “Christmassy Shakespeare” and “Shakespearian Christmas” unfold throughout this 90-minute production, but there is no story found in the actors’ improvised show. Instead, various Shakespearean and Christmas characters find themselves in various Christmas and Shakespearean scenes, and this unconventional collision does succeed for the most part.
Take these scenes for example: Santa Claus finds himself visited by Cleopatra, Shylock and Lady Macbeth, each announcing what they want in their stockings to the tune of Christmas songs. Julius Caesar is murdered during “The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy,” and a balcony scene between Ebenezer Scrooge and Juliet Capulet gives a whole meaning to “a Christmas goose.”
Many other songs and scenes like these are available here in “Scrooge Macbeth” and most succeed. Sure, there are one or two bits that could be cut and few that could be shortened or edited. More importantly, this world premiere did find its wings after being pushed from the nest for audiences to see for the first time.
World premieres present a heavier challenge than the typical production. Grooming it, tweaking it, and ironing out the rough spots are all vital to its survival onstage. Both playwright and ensemble actors describe the show as “walking a tightrope” in the production notes.
It walks a tightrope, indeed; however, this novelty will wear off eventually as the show’s run continues and everything is ironed out once and for all. Very little requires any editing though. Some scenes could definitely be shorter (Santa and the Shakespeare characters), but others could just end up being the best parts of all.
As a world premiere, anything seems possible as to where this show could go. Theatre B has certainly done a remarkable job with nurturing “Scrooge Macbeth” from a raw script to a hilarious holiday show, and Fargo-Moorhead residents have the chance to see its fine work firsthand and first of all.
“Scrooge Macbeth” continues its run every Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. until Dec. 28 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 15 at Theatre B 716 Main Ave. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students, and are available at the box office and by phone at 701-729-8880.