What would happen if you blended “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and an old-time radio show that is missing half its cast? You would get a hilarious Christmas cocktail with an extra sprinkling of redemption on top. “Humbug! A Spirited Christmas Carol,” written and directed by Michael J. Tobin, had Footlights Theatre’s patrons laughing so hard on opening night that the actors had to pause as the guffaws rumbled through the quaint theater.

The play is set on Christmas Eve, sometime in the 1940s. Four members of a theater troupe have arrived in Bedford Falls to perform “A Christmas Carol” for a live studio audience at the small-town radio station. The rest of the cast, all the crew and most of the costumes are snowed in elsewhere. The show must go on, but can this bunch of misfits pull it off?

Married thespians Maggie (Cheryl Reynolds) and Mitchell Harcourt (Tobin) constantly bicker, delivering high-spirited tit-for-tat that’s one humorous jab after another. Fellow actor Dotty Cooper (Janelle Doak) has found her holiday spirit inside a flask, and the childlike company manager, Katherine Costello (Gretchen G. Wood), isn’t the brightest bulb in this set of holiday lights.

Madcap hilarity ensues as the four choose their mismatched multiple roles and tackle Dickens’s classic tale. The overacting is epic as they try to one-up each other. Highlights include Maggie changing Scrooge into a miserly woman named Ebenita, Mitchell showing off his fabulousness as the outrageously costumed Jacob Marley and Ghost of Christmas Past, and Dotty playing Bob Cratchit with an accent that prompts Mitchell to quip, “Top of the morning to you, Bob O’Cratchit.” Even the mousy Katherine finds her inner scene-stealer as the children and Nephew Fred’s Southern wife.

Janelle Doak and Cheryl Reynolds

Footlights Theatre’s four cast members are willing to do anything for laughs, cracking the audience up with wild antics, facial expressions that speak volumes and one-liners delivered with comic pizazz. The feigned chaos is an absolute delight as they bounce between characters, mixing up accents and voices. All the while, they playfully interact with the audience.

The laughter reached a fever pitch opening night as potshot asides leaked into the performance, turning the play into a therapy session that began working its Christmas magic on more than just Scrooge.

As an added treat, the cast pulled Jeffrey Caron out of the audience to deliver a rousing performance of the Ghost of Christmas Future. Footlights Theatre patrons may recognize Caron from past productions and this year’s holiday cabaret.

If you are in need of a smile, “Humbug! A Spirited Christmas Carol” is just what the doctor ordered. The festively decorated theater, laugh-inducing story and zany actors put the spirit(s) back into the holidays and inspire joyful laughter that is as giddy as Scrooge after his miraculous reformation.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ahboyle

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