Friday, Dec. 16, 2011

A Final Application of ROUGE

A Return To The Old Jokes One More Time For In Tandem

By Russ Bickerstaff
Google+ Pinterest Print

n

The theatre company that had managed such a successful holiday series with the ever-popular Cudahy Carolers’ Christmas ends a far more recent tradition this December as it presents its final production of  Scrooge In Rouge. What started as a pleasant alternative to Cudahy Carolers continues to entertain into its third consecutive year with In Tandem Theatre at the Tenth Street Theatre.

n

In Tandem co-founder Chris Flieller, Matt Daniels and Marcella Kearns star as a trio of actors who are the last to remain standing after a particularly nasty case of food poisoning wipes out the rest of a 23-person acting troupe doing a turn of the century music hall production of A Christmas Carol.

n

This is In Tandem’s third year not only doing the show but it’s their third year doing the show with this cast. If all runs were roughly as long as this one, these three actors will have performed this play in just under 90 performances over three years. The show is roughly 90 minutes long. By the end of the run, Flieller will have spent somewhere in the vicinity of 130 hours of their lives doing this show in front of an audience.

n

All of that time pays off. I saw the show at the beginning of its first run in ’09. As deft as the comedy was back then, it was a great deal of fun to revisit it now that Flieller, Daniels and Kearns have had become as familiar with the show as they are going to be. A comic show with a variety of different rapid comic elements, Scrooge In Rouge benefits from a cast that can work together in a fluid kind of a group consciousness. This is precisely what Kerns, Flieller and Daniels have managed here. And now that it’s final run with these three actors is at an end, it’s really kind of sad that these three won’t be performing the show again next year.

n

n

Flieller is in great form here as ever. This kind of “a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants” style music hall humor fits him perfectly. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Flieller is probably the one that chose this script to do every Christmas for the past three. Having had the pleasure of talking with him an numerous occasions, I can see this script clicking with his sense of humor perfectly and it’s really fun to see that at work onstage. Even in its cheesiest moments, Flieller is able to make this humor work—partially because at it’s heart nearly everything in the script is funny on some level, but mostly because Flieller’s personality is just so delightfully bent around this kind of humor that it’s really difficult NOT to have a good time with it.

n

Daniels is a tall man. Really tall. I guess everything’s relative, but next to two relatively short actors, he’s comically towering. And he plays a woman. A lot of the comedy here lies in that, but to let the comedy begin and end there would be the hallmark of a truly bad actor. And being a remarkably good actor, Daniels is able to do the physical end of the comedy here with poise and precision that is only amplified by his towering physical presence. It’s fun to se the gender bending get really warped as Daniels’ characters plays male roles for the play within the play, but after seeing this a second time it becomes all too clear that his performance here isn't funny because it's a man playing a woman in drage . . . it's funny because Daniels has good comic instincts for physical comedy that work regardless of what gender he's playing. 

n

Kearns comes into this third layer of Rouge fresh from appearing in Renaissance Theaterworks’ Gorgons, which had a really similar comedic line running through it. Gorgons was a one time thing. Rouge is over. Okay, so can we get her in another comic sow like this . . . soon? Please? Kearns has such unigue comic energy that is endless fun to watch. It was fun seeing her in Gorgons, but what I love about seeing her in this is the proximity one is able to get to her. Side on the more prominent side of the thrust stage and you catch a lot of comedy that you might not normally be able to get in a larger theatre . . . and there aren’t many stages smaller than the Tenth Street, so this is really, really intimate and immediate comedy. Kearns’ face has this brilliantly clever expressiveness about it that is capable of impressive subtlety. And seeing her here in this show working with actors she’s been working with on this script since ’09 . . . it’s just a lot of fun. So I guess what I’m saying is . . . please, please please get her into something like this again some time soon. She’s a lot of fun. And if you haven’t seen Scrooge In Rouge yet, do so. It's not deep. It's not meaningful. It's not heartfelt. It’s just fun. Lots and lots of fun.    

n

 

n

In Tandem Theatre’s production of Scrooge In Rouge runs through December 31st at the Tenth Street Theatre. For ticket reservations, call 414-271-1371. 

Log in to use your Facebook account with
Express Milwaukee

Login With Facebook Account