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Inspecting Carol

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Fortunately for us, the cast of Inspecting Carol was having a blast. In fact, it was difficult for some of them to refrain from laughing at themselves.

Inspecting Carol
By Daniel Sullivan
The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves
Directed by Sharon Hunter
November 13, 2005


Christmas came early in Webster Groves this year. The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves was donned with a Christmas tree, stockings, holly, and plenty of music for its production of Daniel Sullivan’s Inspecting Carol. Despite the balmy 70-degree weather, it was easy to get in the holiday spirit with this festive live production.

Inspecting Carol is a witty story of a small theater company due to perform its annual production of A Christmas Carol. Unfortunately, the company’s accountant reveals they may not get the yearly $30,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts due to a “significant artistic deficit.” Confusing a wanna-be actor, Wayne, as an NEA representative, the troupe bends over backward to make him happy. All hell breaks loose when the actual representative stops by to see their progress during dress rehearsal.

For anyone who has been involved in theater, either in production or just as an audience member, you know that if the actors aren’t having fun on stage, the audience isn’t having fun watching. Fortunately for us, the cast of Inspecting Carol was having a blast. In fact, it was difficult for some of them to refrain from laughing at themselves.

The strongest characters were Wayne (Cary Steinmetz), the wanna-be actor, and Wilma (Joy Marie Robinson), the company’s attempt at cultural diversity. Many times, the smallest roles end up being the strongest. Although Wilma had very few lines, Robinson played the role with so much attitude and intensity, she immediately stole the stage. Other characters, such as Don Horst as Bart, just seemed like stage dressing.

The key to this production is the witty dialogue and being able to present it. Star Wars references and jabs at Tiny Tim’s sexuality were just a few of the literary quips that make the show so modern.

Because most people know the story of A Christmas Carol and have seen it performed in some fashion either on stage or on television, it’s jolting to have someone try to alter Dickens’ work. Hilarity ensues when the ghost of Christmas past is made into a giant baby from a third-world country, a fake turkey gets tangled in Jacob Marley’s chains, the silent ghost of Christmas future starts giving Scrooge attitude, and Tiny Tim is played by a 40-year-old man.

There’s no doubt about it: Inspecting Carol definitely got me in the holiday spirit, but I’m afraid A Christmas Carol is going to seem rather dull after this performance. 

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