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The Tentacle


December 15, 2006

My Fault Entirely

Roy Meachum

As many readers doubtless know, Bob Miller invited me to join his WFMD Morning News Express at 8:45 Friday mornings. I suspect some of you didn't understand my profuse apology last week.

As a journalist committed to trying to steer readers in the right direction when spending their entertainment dollars, I goofed. Not in a shooting-squad way but nevertheless I fell to sleep; I got to the recent Maryland Ensemble Theatre's play too late to tell readers and listeners about it. That won't happen again.

MET's current production of Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge stacks up as the funniest show I've seen in Frederick. It may be the wackiest and most wonderful theatrical evening I've ever witnessed, in all these years. It's funny as hell! The audience kept the laughter coming at freight train speed.

The take-off on Dickens' Christmas Carol throws the kitchen sink into the familiar story. And that's just for starters. The rest of the junk follows. Having said that, I now don't have to worry about fouling up and forgetting to tell you about the randy, raucous comedy available weekends at the MET's quarters in the old Francis Scott Key Hotel's lower level.

Leasing space in what was once the city's finest hostelry makes a strong statement that the group means serious business. Even in slapstick, pratfall numbers like "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge."

By the way, this weekend, in conjunction with The Fun Company, MET's got a Weinberg Center presentation of the original "God bless us all!" That would be more suitable for the younger folks in your household. It opens tonight. Without seeing the show, I can recommend it.

In roaming through the recesses of my aging memory, in fact, I can't recall the last time I saw a MET production that wasn't worth the money and time. And then some.

I've quibbled about the choice of works now and then. But that quibbling has nothing to do with the professionalism out there on stage.

They performed, for example, a perfectly acceptable version of Harold Pinter's play about adultery and deception. I have wondered off and on if the Brit ever wrote on any other subject. In the Frederick production of "The Betrayal," parts belonged to Julie Herber, Gené Fouché and Tad Janes. Those three are the rock-strong foundation of what the MET is all about. The trio brings dedication to everything they touch.

In the current "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" they're at it again. As the director, Ms. Fouché had the production working just fine last weekend and what a glorious premise. Fed up with her life dominated by Boss Scrooge and a husband who tries too much to find good in everything, instead of "Bah, humbug," she pops around to the local pub looking for London Bridge. You will be surprised at some of the topical references. The crowd around me seemed to love them.

The kids who play the Cratchit kids are a very special treat; they stayed step by step with the adults, while quietly stealing their share of scenes. The night I went Lena Janes and Austin Lemere had their counts down pat for the movement numbers. They were a very, very pleasant surprise. I know, I know: children out-performing grown-ups ain't exactly news. I enjoyed their freshness immensely.

My heart fills with cheer when I tell you Mrs. Cratchit will be downing the booze and trying to drown herself through mid-January. But this is only weekend to catch up with "Christmas Carol." Four shows and its out of here. By Sunday night.

My suggestion: Take in a refresher on Mr. Dickens most famous work; then you'll dig the very clever satire and burlesque Christopher Durang's spoof in Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge.



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