I have to confess to feeling more than a little grinchy settling in to watch Dorothy Gets Scrooged, Ladysmith Little Theatre’s Christmas production. A mashup of my all time sentimental favourite, Dickens’ Christmas Carol, with The Wizard of Oz? Really?
Sacrilegious and highly unlikely, I thought.
And the opening scene left me even more doubtful: a narrated intro, explaining how Dorothy had been transformed from the immortal darling of many a childhood memory, into a self-centered, money grubbing, bossy, snarky ‘bitch.’ One can suspend disbelief only so far, and turn a blind-eye to slander for only so long!
Written by Little Theatre’s own Bill Johnson – who also directed the play, and took on the role of Scarecrow – my initial thought was: there’s no out here. If this thing doesn’t come off, Little Theatre will have no-one to blame but themselves, collectively, for a home-grown misadventure.
Fortunately, my anticipated disastrous ending was blown out of the water the moment the witch Elvira Havisham (Lynnia Clark) wheeled out onto the stage on a kid’s scooter, and started singing the praises of exotic flowers and the fortunes to be made by growing and selling them.
A neighbour’s tiff between her and Dorothy (Lauren Semple) morphs into a business partnership that echoes the miserly example of Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Marley, and follows the same pattern straight to perdition.
With interludes of dialogue, the play skips through favourite selections from the hit charts, all cleverly rewritten to tie into the Scrooged theme.
This is not a production for the faint-heart to take on. Above all, it requires strong acting to carry off. Semple, in the role of Dorothy, is outstanding. Her strutting, pouting, shouting, sarcasm and general meanness and miserliness are portrayed with just the right touch of exaggeration to make it comic, yet believable.
But she’s not alone. The rest of the cast step up, with amusing performances, too. The Tin Man (Robert Bradford) and the Lion (Torry Clark) join Scarecrow in memorable three-part harmonies; Scratchet (Christian Ostaffy) singing the blues with his impoverished, somewhat dwarfish family.
If you’re looking for something a little different this Christmas season, and don’t mind having a few iconic memories mashed, you’ll get a kick out of Dorothy Gets Scrooged. If you don’t like people having some fun with your traditional Christmas fare, well… Bah Humbug!
I don’t know what possessed Williams to write this play, or Ladysmith Little Theatre to take it on, but I’m glad they did. It took courage, brains and feeling to pull off.
Tickets available at the Ladysmith Little Theatre Box Office 250-924-0658. Open Mon, Wed and Fri. from 1 to 3 p.m. or online at LadysmithTheatre.com,