The Unicorn Theatre, located at 3828 Main Street, opened another one of its highly regarded “Bold New Plays” on Saturday Oct. 3 with “The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge.”
The play, which is a “rock n’ roll take on the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” is being run as a joint production where the Unicorn Theatre and the UMKC Theatre team up for the festive period. Based on the book by Larry Larsen and Eddie Levi Lee, the musical was originally produced by the Unicorn in 1997, with Edd Key at the musical helm.
Under the direction of Missy Koonce, “Iggy Scrooge” is a hilarious alternative to the traditional holiday entertainment associated with Christmas. It develops a clever spin on the Charles Dickens classic through a time-warp down pop-culture memory lane.
Iggy, played magnificently by a husky-voiced Matthew Rapport, is a burnt out rock-star who, like Dickens’ Scrooge, is repugnant and hates everything to do with Christmas. We meet Iggy in his element, on stage performing at his concert and backstage drug-abusing and swigging with his trusty friend Jack Daniels. He is then transformed into the world of Christmas Eve and has some unexpected apparitions from rock legends such as Bob Marley, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.
As the famous names mentioned may suggest, the musical variety present in the play is plentiful. From the wailing reggae of Bob Marley, complete with flawless Jamaican diction by Rufus Burns, in the song “Take Care of Business,” to the equally impressive stuttering impersonation of Ghost of Christmas Past Buddy Holly by Matthew McAndrews, original 50s rock ‘n’ roll is introduced into the mix with a rendition of “You Gotta Go Back.” While the lyrics of each song are perfectly fitting and comical where needed, Ron Magee’s Elvis impersonation, dance-moves and actor-audience interaction had the Unicorn in hysterics with his perfect use of flamboyance. This was clear in his on-the-spot humor relating to an audience members’ clothing (“don we now our gay apparel”), and the improvisation of cleaning up an accidently spilled class of vino with a Christmas sock prop.
From the lighthearted trip down memory lane of `50s, `60s, `70s and `80s rock ‘n’ roll to the dreary darkening music of Ghost of Christmas Future Matt Weiss, Iggy Scrooge leaves no stone unturned either musically or visually.
The stage-design, costumes and accent changes are frankly perfect for such a show. The ensemble, which joins every song on some level or another, whether as fanatic audience members located within the audience, dancing or “jamming out” with soft musical instruments, really makes this show tick.
The rotating stage just adds more fluidity to the time-warp style telling of this tale which brings us through the past, present and future with ease.
The band, comprised of Tony Bernal (keyboard), Brian Wilson (bass) and Julian Goss (percussion), is important musically, as shown by the rapturous standing ovation received at the conclusion of a magnificent performance.
“The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge” is an un-missable production and is a gem in what is Kansas City’s best kept secret; the Unicorn Theatre. The production will run until Dec. 24, with performances Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For more information contact the Unicorn Theatre at 816-531-PLAY (7529), or online at www.UnicornTheatre.org.