For my second big show in Pittsburgh I had the great fortune to see Bricolage Production Company’s Yinz’r Scrooged Friday night, which is part of their Midnight Radio series. I don’t think this could have been a better way for me to begin my first holiday season in Pittsburgh. I have a special place in my heart for both A Christmas Carol, and radio shows.
I remember as a little boy a local radio station would play reruns (I’m not old enough to remember the originals) of classic radio plays at 10 pm. I was (and still am) awed at how clearly a story could be created from just sound. With no visual pictures, I was able to create the world around me be simply closing my eyes and listening. Such great memories create high expectations for current radio productions.
Tami Dixon has adapted the Charles Dickens classic so that it holds all of the personality of Pittsburgh. From speech patterns and slang, to everyday behavioral Pittsburghian stereotypes. Even being new to the ‘burgh, the comically driven stereotypes resonated with me. I may not have understood all of jokes, but those that I have experienced had me rolling with laughter. Most importantly, Ms. Dixon not only managed to parody Pittsburgh well, but her adaptation holds the weight of the original.
Of course the wonderful work Ms. Dixon provided wouldn’t be as potent without a voice. Lissa Brennan, Howard Elson, Michael McBurney, Connor McCanlus, and Sheila McKenna make up the cast. Each member not only brought to life multiple characters, many of whom are ironically Pittsburghian, but provided a majority of the Foley work as well. The sound that wasn’t created by the cast, was created by the musicians. Musical director James Rushin, clarinetist Kira Bokalders, and guitarist George Elliot not only created a chilling assortment of instrumental sound effects, they created a subtle, yet powerful ambiance for the world. I would also like to tip my hat to Stage Manager Brandon Martin, for keeping track of hundreds of moving pieces (quite literally) that go into a radio play.
The space itself was comfortable and cozy. Since nothing was hidden from the audience, my excitement came from being able to see and hear how everything was going to be used to create sound. As when I was a child, I often found myself closing my eyes to listen to the show. Voices and actors that I was watching onstage disappeared into the uniqueness of each character’s sound. Nostalgia hit me from several sides. Part of me was 10 years old again lying in the dark listening to the crackle of an AM station, and just like then, vivid scenes of what I was hearing played on the back of my eyelids.
With the warm, cheerful, and inviting staff, and activities in the lobby, the heartfelt, and powerfully funny adaptation, and wonderful nostalgia Yinz’r Scrooged was definitely a great way to kick off the holiday season.
Special thanks to Bricolage for complimentary press tickets. Yinz’r Scrooged runs through December 19th. Tickets and more information can be found here.