I love big musical productions – the orchestra, the costumes, the constantly changing scenery and all the bells and whistles. But truly, it’s the smaller productions that really leave it up to the actors to draw you into the story and their world.
In Beasley’s Christmas Party, currently showing at the Taproot Theatre, four actors cover about a dozen roles, changing characters as quickly and effortlessly as they change hats (literally). In a few cases, one character is actually played, at different times, by two actors, and to hilarious effect.
The tale is based on a short story written by Booth Tarkington in 1909. Set in Indiana, it follows Booth (played by Frank Lawler), as he begins to suspect that gubernatorial candidate Beasley (Don Brady) is…not quite of sound mind. (As evidenced by the man’s chatting with invisible people, racing invisible men, and roughhousing with invisible dogs). He and Beasley’s neighbor Miss Apperthwaite (Lisa Peretti) speculate on the cause, although Miss Apperthwaite, as Booth soon learns, may not be the best person to discuss Beasley with, due to their personal history. Mr. Meyers, a close friend of Beasley, fills Booth in on the secret.
Lawler’s role as Booth is non-stop – if he’s not in a scene, he’s narrating it, and he keeps the pace moving wonderfully. Brady, Peretti, and Lamb are brilliant as the remaining eleven characters – on several occasions they flawlessly switch from one to another mid-scene.
The simple scenery and costumes are fantastic; effective, but allowing the audience to really use their imaginations and see the events as Booth did. And the story is exactly the type of story I want to experience this time of year – funny, charming, and quite heartwarming.
Beasley’s Christmas Party will be playing at the Taproot through December 30th. A special note: at under 90 minutes, there is no intermission, making this a great option for children. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 206.781.9707.