By David A. Sargent

Special to the Sun Journal

AUBURN — The Spirit of Christmas Past is haunting the Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre stage, which wraps up the holiday season with a wild and wacky comedy called “Inspecting Carol.”

It’s all about a nearly bankrupt theater company that needs to impress a representative of the National Endowment of the Arts in order to get an essential grant renewed. This leads to mistaken identities and many hilarious mishaps in the group’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.”

This show is filled with comedy by a versatile cast, and two veterans of many CLT shows bring their best comedic talent to this production.

Mitchell Clyde Thomas portrays Larry, whose social conscience results in some unforgettable revisions to the Dickens classic. His performance drives the show with some well-timed slapstick and an endless stream of ideas for the script.

Thomas directed CLT’s production of “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” in December of 2008. A satirical show such as “Inspecting Carol” undoubtedly gives him a chance to draw on behind-the-scenes experiences that fueled the writers of this clever comedy.

Roger Philippon, who had a lead role in “The Full Monty” last October, appears as Phil, the actor who plays Bob Cratchit. Philippon’s characterizations in each show are distinct and well-defined, but he also possesses a personal style that’s recognizable and well-liked by CLT audiences.

Jason Pelletier is excellent in the role of Wayne Wellacre, an enthusiastic but no-talent novice actor who is mistaken for the government inspector.

Another stand-out performer is Boyd Scott as Walter. He is a recent addition to the Soapbox Theater’s roster of actors; and as the only black actor among them, he stoically endures some inept attempts to fit him into the roles of all three Christmas spirits.
Scott, who debuted for CLT in “Drood” last March, brings some of the funniest moments to “Inspecting Carol.” Somehow, he keeps a straight face and successfully pulls off a perfect attitude of resignation as one outlandish costume after another is inflicted upon him.

Mark Hazzard plays Sidney, the actor who ably portrays the chain-laden Marley in the show-within-a-show. He has performed in several CLT productions since his first appearance in the dramatic lead of “Proof” in 2006.

Drew Masse turns in a very good performance as Luther, the youngster who has obviously out-grown his annual appearance as Tiny Tim. Masse is a seventh-grader at Lewiston Middle School and he appeared in last year’s musical version of “A Christmas Carol,” but not as Tiny Tim.

Masse works well with Philippon, whose back is suffering severely under the burden of the heavier-than-ever boy with the crutch.
The role of MJ, the stage manager, is played by Victoria Machado. She is the voice of reason among the insanity all around her. Machado has been a CLT stage manager in the past couple of years, and now she’s a stage manager again, but this time on stage. It’s her return to acting after 13 years.

Other good performances are given by Ryan Adair as the theater’s accountant, and by Sarah Frederick-Wood, returning to the stage after seven years, as Zorah Bloch, the anger-filled director.

Alice Ruvane is the voice coach and the only actor of the Soapbox Theater troupe with an authentic English accent, which she has to give up to try to sound “American.” Bryan Robiceau plays an actor and stage hand who has mixed luck in making the mechanical effects work properly.

Director Eileen Messina succeeds in delivering a variety of comic performances from her cast. The show’s script depends on a first act which seems somewhat disjointed as characters are developed. In the faster-paced last act, everything goes awry for the hapless actors as the real inspector (a surprise performer) appears and the actors stumble through their hilariously misguided version of “A Christmas Carol.”

Go and do
WHAT: Remaining shows of “Inspecting Carol”
WHEN: at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21; at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24
WHERE: Great Falls Center for the Arts, 30 Academy St., Auburn
FOR TICKETS: Call 783-0958 or visit www.laclt.com.
NOTE: The show contains some language for mature audiences.


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