A REVIEW: 'Wicked Christmas Carol' brings new spin on two classics

Trish Morgan
Special to the News Tribune
Members of the cast of Embassy Theatre’s “A Wicked Christmas Carol” include: (front) Beth Clise, Karl Vogtman, Colin Vogtman, Alice Hayworth, Lily Riley, Denise Adams, Kyle Vogtman, (standing) Amy Clise, Tim Bambara, Sawyer Jenkins, Abby Mclaughlin, Kenzie Pein, Carrie Wolford, Danise Whitlock, Tyler Gilks. Not pictured: Jessica Miller.

CUMBERLAND - Most of us have seen the 1939 MGM production of "Wizard of Oz.” In fact, we have grown up with this classic film through childhood to adult.

As for "A Christmas Carol,” most of us have seen at least one of the numerous versions of this classic tale.

Here at Embassy Theatre in Cumberland, you will have the chance to see performances on stage where these two stories are combined into one production. It truly is worth the trip - two classics in one!

"A Wicked Christmas Carol" is a delightful and fun, family friendly mash up of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and L. Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz." The classic characters from Oz live out Dickens' hauntingly beautiful story of redemption and love.

Directed by Danise Whitlock, assisted by stage manager Denise Adams, patrons will travel through time as Whitlock does double duty in her starring role as the Wicked Witch. Whitlock portrays one of her favorite characters, having perfected the role in past performances as the wicked witch. She carries us through this play as we discover some of the reasons she became wicked in the first place - with ghostly visitors from Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future.

While this play is not the "Wizard of Oz" as we know it, you will meet some familiar faces along the way. I'm sure you'll remember Glinda, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Dorothy - but the story is cleverly written similar to a prequel to Munchkin Land and all that transpired there.

This ensemble cast plays each role carefully so that the audience becomes familiar with the back story as cleverly written originally by Baum. One interesting thing you will notice is that in the original story, Dorothy's shoes were silver, not ruby. But still, they did have magical powers.

Patrons will enjoy the characterizations and styles of performance by Sawyer Jenkins as Tin Man/Weatherby/Roquat, Timothy Bambara as Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr come to life!), Kyle Vogtman as Windy/Third Gateman and Abby Mclaughlin as Young Lina/Teenage Lina.

It was just marvelous seeing so many young faces at Embassy, and they certainly added something special to the storytelling.

Patrons attending will get to know Lina - who is the wicked witch before she became wicked. You will meet her sisters, employees and friends, and then you will meet the family of Wee Willie (sweetly and effectively played by Colin Vogtman) - quite similar to Tiny Tim and his family in "A Christmas Carol.” A third Vogtman starring in this story is Karl Vogtman, who plays Zuzzy/Jol Soforth. How nice it is to see a family like the Vogtmans who enjoy live theatre and get so much family encouragement!

This melded story will melt your heart, and this cast spins a beautiful story of love and forgiveness. You certainly will gain new perspective and insight into any pre-conceived notion about the Wicked Witch of the West!

Also featured in this cast are as follows:

Jemkiph/Oogaboo - Tyler Gilks

Ozma/Tip - Jessica Miller

Locasta Tattypoo - Denise Adams

Glinda - Amy Clise

Scarecrow/Willow - Jack Tabb

Eurestia - Carrie Wolford

Addelle/Mary Ann Soforth - Alice Haworth

Dorothy/ Mombi - Lily Riley

Young Eurestia/Teenage Eurestia - Kenzie Pein

Teenage Glinda/Jocelyn Soforth - Beth Clise

Embassy Theatre will showcase its final three performances this weekend on Fri/Sat, 8 pm, and Sun at 2 pm. To make reservations, call (240) 362-7183.

The theatre will follow all COVID protocols, with masks required and seats spaced accordingly. No food or drinks permitted in the theatre, but patrons can enjoy both in the lobby at Passport Cafe.

Trish Morgan is a local writer, columnist, poet, actor, vocalist and theater buff who has spent many  hours both on stage and back stage for numerous local productions.