As TV regularly demonstrates, A Christmas Carol can be adapted into just about any scenario. For theater, just take the plot and characters, plop them into a modern-day situation and locale, add some songs and—voila!—instant Christmas show!
That’s what Lucky Penny’s Barry Martin and Rob Broadhurst have done with A Napa Valley Christmas Carol, running in Napa through Dec. 19.
Skinflint Winery-owner Alexander Scroo …, er, Yuge (Tim Setzer) works his nephew Joe Patchett (Matt Davis) and marketing staff (Dennis O’Brien, Daniela Innocenti Beem) mercilessly on Christmas Eve. They have to come up with 10 new wine labels before Joe can head home to his practical wife (Kirstin Pieschke), angst-ridden teen Goldie (Cecilia Brenner) and cute-but-sickly child Frankie (Dakota Dwyer). After they come up with a few ideas, they all call it a day and head for the Patchett Christmas Eve gathering.
Yuge arrives at the office to discover their absence and is soon swimming in a bottle of whiskey. Faster than you can say “Jacob Marley,” Yuge is visited by the spirit of his ex-wife (Karen Pinomaki) and told to expect some visitors. Note that it’s just the spirit of his ex, as she’s not dead.
The Ghost of Christmas Past (O’Brien) arrives in the person of a grunge-band refugee, Christmas Present (Beem) shows up to belt a few tunes and Christmas Future (Brenner) appears in the person of a mouthy teen to explain how Yuge’s generation has ruined everything. Faster than you can say “Bah, humbug!,” Yuge sees the error of his ways, and Frankie is off to see a specialist. God bless us, everyone.
Thematically and tonally, the show is kind of all over the place as it lurches from serious drama to silly comedy. Traditional Christmas songs, like “O Holy Night,” are mixed in amongst Broadhurst’s amusingly irreverent originals like “Schlock” and the uplifting, soon-to-be-Christmas-classic “Death Comes for Us All.” Credit Broadhurst for taking on the annual “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” debate with “The Movies That Make It Christmas.” It isn’t.
Local and topical references brought chuckles from the audience, and the talented cast sells the show. There’s a lot to like here, but it’s the theatrical equivalent of a fruitcake—a confection with bits and pieces of things that are sweet, gooey, nutty and best soaked in spirits. If ya like fruitcake …