"STILL TUGS AT OUR HEARTSTRINGS...JAW-DROPPING...ASTOUNDING..."

Ben Lohrberg and Sara Ornelas as Fred and Belle

Ben Lohrberg and Sara Ornelas as Fred and Belle

TITAN’S “SCROOGE” OFFERS HOLIDAY TWIST

A VIEW FROM THE CLIFF

BY CLIFF KASDEN, QUEENS CHRONICLE

It’s Saturday evening at Queens Theatre (Flushing Meadows Corona Park). The Navidad Flamenca dancers are captivating the audience on the main level. Meanwhile, the resident acting troupe, Titan Theatre Company, is creating a holiday phenomenon at the lower studio level.

The beloved tale of holiday joy and hope still tugs at our heartstrings. But it takes a special twist to bring vitality to this century’s old tale. Artistic director Lenny Banovez explained, “We have a new director (Broadway’s Tony Clements) and females playing both Scrooge and Marley in makeup roles. So there is a lot new this year!”

Carine Montbertrand, wearing whiskers and mutton chops portrays Ebenezer Scrooge with jaw-dropping skill. Her physical mannerisms and vocal inflections are astounding. She offers an often flawless combination of wit, angst and charisma in a not to be forgotten interpretation of Dickens’ notorious miser.

Scrooge’s doomed partner Jacob Marley is well played by Laura Frye. Her eloquent, anguished advice is riveting. There are several other gender-bending roles. These include Katrina Dykstra as Peter Cratchit/young Scrooge, Eva Raffaele as street denizen Grubbin (alternating with Silas Wade), and Tekla Zurashvili as ever optimistic Tiny Tim (alternating with Seth Wade). A very funny Wynn Harmon dominates the stage as likable but frustrated housemaid Miss Dilber.

Supporting players are equally well studied. Ben Lohrberg is charming as the young, hopeful Scrooge before he is corrupted by wealth. Sara Ornelas earns our compassion when young Scrooge chooses greed instead of true love. Michael Selkirk returns as ever-happy Mr. Fezziwig. Bailey Seeker as the Spirit of Christmas Past wears a glowing robe and a genuinely concerned expression. Kindly Bob Cratchit (Marcus Denard Johnson), shares the holiday spirit with his practical wife (Alyssa Van Gorder), his children played by Wesley Cady, Julia Mechner, Melissa Muench, Mia Soleil Jacquez, Beatrice Frisbie and Nia Jimenez. Other youth include nine year old Isabella Fiallo and Radek David Vasicek. Journeyman Kevin Stanfa and guest artist Alan Ross complete the cast.

Kudos to the entire creative team including Kevin Beebee (managing director), Emily Trask (co-adapter), Jessica McIlquham (production stage manager), Laura Frye (choreographer), Michael Sabourin (scenic design), Weston Wetzel (sound design) Katy Atwell (lighting design), Analiese Puzon (costume design) and Braden Spear (understudies).

For information, visit www.titantheatrecompany.com or call 347-738-5602. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.