Plumbum's return provides enough crazy fun to power Petty panto through rough plot patches...phew
Dan Chameroy as Plumbum and Cyrus Lane as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
Nobody goes to a Ross Petty panto expecting clearly delineated plot lines, and pitch perfect performances. If it ends up happening, count yourself lucky. But one should expect good family entertainment, the opportunity for the youngsters in the home to exercise the vocal cords with some good booing, and some silly, guilt-free laughs for the adults. And that's just what this year's production provides, if it's possible to grin and bear some issues.
This year, the Petty crew tackle A Christmas Carol, and the traditional storyline of cranky old Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by a trio of ghosts from past, present and future before coming to the realization that his greed has ruined his life and others and in a fit of Christmas spirit seeks redemption remains. Sort of.
In order to cram in the usual Petty plot devices, the story takes so many twists and turns it's best to just ignore it all together and concentrate on the performances. For example, the ghost of Marley, the late business partner of Scrooge, is now a Bob Marley-esque character who originally started the company in the Caribbean as a whaling operation. Ahem. The entire scene was almost painful to watch. And, if that wasn't enough, apparently Michael J. Fox and his Delorean drove from the future back to Victorian England to give the townsfolk mobile technology that would facilitate Scrooge's dastardly world domination scheme via a mobile app. So there's that.
Yes, the book has some issues. And the performances are uneven. But, there is a lot to like. Plumbum von Botox for one.
Dan Chameroy created this incredible, madcap character years ago, and it has been the comic bedrock of the Petty pantos ever since. Last year, Chameroy was starring as Miss Trunchbull in Mirvish's incredible production of Matilda so he was unable to fulfill his Plumbum duties much to the detriment of that particular show. But he is back this year and he is in fine form.
There were a few moments that were over the top, even for Plumbum, but for the most part Chameroy's performance was wonderful. At one point, Chameroy seemed to tap into a whole other level of zany with a hilarious stream-of-consciousness rant involving a street performer on stilts milking an American bison on a step ladder, that brought forth streaming tears of laughter.
Chameroy's performance, especially during the second act, was helped considerably by the opportunity to play opposite Cyrus Lane's Scrooge. Indeed, Lane's performance is a real boon to the show, and securing his return for next year's production is essential. The panto relies on having a boo magnet in the lead role as the villain that plays to the crowd and pushes all the right buttons and Lane — who has worked the stages at both Stratford and Shaw as well as on TV in shows such as Murdoch Mysteries — seems to be a worthy successor to the master of villainy Petty, who retired from performing two years ago.
Aside from Chameroy and Lane, the performance of the energetic and powerful AJ Bridel is worthy of note. The performer, the lead in last year's Petty panto Sleeping Beauty, is clearly the finest singer of the bunch providing the show's best musical highlights. And, of course, the longest running member of the Petty team left performing Eddie Glen — on his fifteenth show and whose always seems to be at his best while improvising and joking with the audience — does an admirable job as Bob Cratchit.
Listen, it's a goofy show. There are mistakes. Audiences can boo. The fourth wall is not only down, it's kicked solidly to the curb. If you can deal with the crazy storyline, it more than makes up for it in other areas.
A Christmas Carol runs until Dec. 31 at the historic Elgin Theatre. Ticket information right here.