In Play Reviews

A funny thing happened at Portland Center Stage the other night. Dorothy and Toto and Little Orphan Annie showed up onstage in a show about Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol. How are such things even allowed?

Lauren Modica and Chantal DeGroat in Twist Your Dickens at Portland Center Stage. Photo by Russell J. Young.

They are allowed because The Second City’s A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens has returned to the Armory’s Main Stage for its annual run. This may be the funniest one ever! Written by Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort, original writers for The Colbert Report, and directed by Ron West of The Second City, the show features local actors working with performers and some crew members from The Second City.

This year Isaac Lamb takes the stage as Scrooge, while Lauren Modica returns as Mrs. Crachit and others. Los Angeles-based Second City alum Rebecca Sohn appears as Ghost of Christmas Present and others. Darius Pierce is new to the show in the roles of Marley and others. Twist alumni

Nicholas Kessler in Twist Your Dickens at Portland Center Stage. Photo by Patrick Weishampel/

include Chantal DeGroat (Belle and others), Sam Dinkowitz (Ghost of Christmas Present and others), and Nicholas Kessler (Ghost of Christmas Future, Bob Cratchit, and others).

Jeff Cone designed this year’s costumes. As cast members play multiple roles,  there are scores of costumes and wigs, and an equal number of costume changes, often accomplished in a matter of seconds. Scenic design by Tom Buderwitz, lighting design by Daniel Meeker, sound design by Casi Pacilio also are excellent.

This is a fast-moving, energetic, and side-splitting show. While it does take us through Scrooge’s night of spirits and his own spiritual awakening, there are many digressions. Orphans must organize. Boards must meet. One need look only to national politics to discover what feeds this year’s screenplay. Local matters get satirized as well. And there is improvisation. Lots of it!

Isaac Lamb as Scrooge in Twist Your Dickens at Portland Center Stage. Photo: by Russell J. Young.

If you’ve seen the show in previous years, don’t worry. It changes, and gets crazier every year. Twist Your Dickens runs through December 23, and is suitable for ages 14 and up.




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