Several nods and accolades must go to producer Zombie Joe himself for putting together a colorfully visceral rendition of a truly uplifting story in such a sharp and clever way. The true artist in this production is the magical brush that Denise Devin uses as the director of a project like this. Denise not only adapted this masterpiece originally first published in 1843, but turned it into a fully realized, true to its heart, natural production and sprinkled it with very colorful performances and a dash of holiday music to boot! Bravo Denise!
We all know the story and giving it a fresh and convincing miserly performance is Sebastian Munoz as the crotchety, snarling business owner named Ebenezer Scrooge. With his major ‘chip(s)’ on his shoulders, he knows how to ruin a holiday season. Sebastian makes you believe in Scrooge’s bitterness and cantankerous charms to eventually give us a real warm ending in his performance. Not only his words, but his reactions to his visions, ghosts and flashbacks were clearly the emotional center of this character for Sebastian.
Now as for outstanding performances in the rest of the cast, Redetha Deason does a clear and concise narration, explaining some of the story as she then does one of the most heartfelt performances as Mrs. Cratchit. You’ll definitely feel her compassion. Redetha is also part of the chorus with a truly amazing voice, but delivers her feelings extremely well through her entire performance.
Jason Britt takes on the role of Belle’s husband in a short scene but has the ominous and challenging task of deaingl with Sebastian's bitterness as Scrooge and the warming love of his family as Bob Cratchit. Jason’s Bob is calm and obedient and also true to form as he and Redetha ponder their lost son Tiny Tim. (Spoilers! Oh, anyone who doesn’t know this story is not from this planet!)
The always surprising and talented Corey Zicari, besides being a member of the Steam-Punk Chorus (with some really funny “moves"), also plays the innocent and loving Tiny Tim and, at the end, a hysterical young boy who does one major task for the revitalized Scrooge. Corey is so much fun to watch and listen whenever she performs.
Vanessa Cate and Gloria Galvan both shine as the very serious Charity ‘gentlemen’ who come to ask Scrooge for some money. They are hysterical to watch with their interpretations of both being blown off and later on receiving their past due rewards. Both are also part of the Steam-Punk Chorus and Venessa and Gloria also perform many other roles with quite distinction (like the stealing housekeeper and the scheming Mr. Lacey after Scrooge’s death)! Also a member of the Chorus is the harmonic singing talents of Sandra Said.
David Wyn Harris is the innocent young Scrooge, Scrooge’s nephew Fred, the son of Bob Cratchit, Peter Cratchit, as well as a zombie and is obviously having a great time with each role she quickly changes into and performs. David gives it all he’s got and keeps his energy high which only lifts the energy of his fellow cast memebrs.
Remember I said earlier that there is a ‘sprinkle’ of holiday music in this show? Well, all the vocal arrangements and guitar playing were performed both vocally and on her strings by Annalee Scott. Annalee kept the beat, rhythm and harmonies of the entire Steam-Punk Chorus really moving and wonderfully uplifting with traditional songs of the holiday season. She is truly a very talented vocalist and guitarist.
I must mention, one of the finest producers of original theatre in the whole of the L.A. area and one of the funniest performers on stage I have ever seen is this theatre’s founder Zombie Joe himself. Zombie is a very creepy, haunting and quite convincing Ghost of Marley, later comes back to become one of the most brightest and cheerful Mr. Fezziwig’s you’ll ever see, and he then portrays the most hysterical and side-splitting Undertakers I have ever witness perform this role before. You have got see it to believe it. You’ll be laughing for a long while!
Now when you have a good show (piece), with good actors and good production values it usually is the responsibility of a good director – in this case Denise Devin. However, you can see her showcase her wonderful acting abilities as she gives a powerfully bold performance as the Ghost of Christmas Past, a most jolly and spirited performance as the Ghost of Christmas Present and finally a silent, but deadly, performance as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Not only can she write and direct (and choreograph), but Denise can also act and hit them right out of the ballpark too!
For a true taste of a holiday classic with a few original Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre twists, and a whole lot of fun, this delightful version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a must see for the whole family. Fast, frightening and funny for family and friends and the evening will go by so fast, you’ll wonder why there isn’t more! Check them out at www.ZombieJoes.com. Bravo!
Pic Zombie Joe Sebastian Muñoz