By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant.
Bricolage Producing Artistic Director Tami Dixon takes Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” stuffs it with mashed potatoes and rolls it into a pierogi in her outrageous Midnight Radio production of “Yinz’r Scrooged,” a version of the classic Christmas tale in Pittsburghese.
Fans of the Midnight Radio series are sure to enjoy this skewered Scrooge. If you haven’t heard of Midnight Radio we need to get you up to speed: Midnight radio is not on the radio and it does not start at midnight. The shows are produced with an old-timey radio bluster, replete with Foley artist sound effects and campy commercials. Listen carefully to the Pittsburgh Directional Translation app. It’s hilarious.
The show sticks closely to the Scrooge story with a decidedly Pittsburgh twist. In this tale everyone pitches in and plays a variety of offbeat characters doing multiple voices and a series of vocal aerobics. Ebenezer Scrooge (with a slight name variation) is played by Howard Elson. Lissa Brennan is Cratchit (sort of) and her sweet, but sickly child is played by Connor McCanlus (McCanlus also plays Young Ebenezer). The ghosts of Christmas are local legends, expertly voiced by Michael McBurney and Sheila McKenna.
Fred Rogers is the ghost of Christmas Past, taking Ebenezer on a trolley ride (naturally) to his childhood. McBurney’s impression is delightful. If you close your eyes you could almost see the familiar red-sweater and tennis shoes on the popular Pittsburgh icon. The band, comprised of musical director James Rushin, guitarist George Elliot and clarinetist Kira Bokalders (the Bah Humbugs), literally chimes in with the familiar tune that used to take us back and forth from Make-Believe.
Mayor Sophie Masloff rears her Babushka wrapped head as the Ghost of Christmas Present. You could swear that the squeaky-voiced diminutive mayor was in the room with you, thanks to McKenna’s rendition. None of the impressions are subtle but they are sublime.
The cast is brilliant. With three Equity actors in the cast it’s almost expected, but McBurney and Brennan deftly keep up with their talented union brothers and sister.
Sam Turich directs this laugh-out-loud production. The show is a brisk, hilarious and… strangely heartfelt. After all, the original yarn is about giving back. In the spirit of the story, Bricolage is collecting donations, food and art supplies to various charities. When you go, bring stuff! You don’t want to have the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future haunting you. Of course, if it was the cast of Bricolage’s “Yinz’r Scrooged” you might. Bring stuff anyway.
The Bricolage is downtown at 937 Liberty Avenue (First Floor), Pittsburgh, PA 15222. For more information about the show, click here