Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Irish Carol @ Keegan Theater

Way back when I first envisioned doing a lot of local theater this fall, I wanted to go to as many different theaters and productions as possible.  I was aware of this theater on Church Street in the Dupont neighborhood.  It opened its doors two years after I moved to Takoma Park and it was just half a block from historic St. Thomas Episcopal Church were Integrity, DC met and with whom I was a board member from about 1995 to 2000.  Back then it was called fittingly enough "The Church Street Theater" and it began the reinvention of this wonderful building that was originally built as the gymnasium for a local private school.  Over the years the Church Street Players waned and a new group took the place over and renamed it the Andrew Keegan Theater in 2009.  This group bought the building outright and then renovated, revealing it's present form in 2013. 
And I have to say, it's absolutely an amazing performance space which creates rapport with the actors by it's shear warmth and proximity.  My seat was in the second row dead center--actor eye level.
This production was conceived of by me as my Christmas Break show.  (And then came along "Into The Woods" at the Kennedy Center Dec 25!...and "Titanic" at Signature Theater tomorrow evening, DEC 29)  Oh well.  If you're going to be up-staged, you certainly could do a lot worse!  So, how small is Keegan?  Well, they don't bother to print tickets.  You arrive and a handsome young man at a laptop looks up your will call and then uses a sharpy to write your seat on you program.  Well, except after he named my seat, he asked, "Do you want me to write that down for you?"  And my look caused him to quickly add, "No.  I bet you've already memorized it..."  Bingo, chico!  

So what is "An Irish Carol?"  It is a play that Keegan has done now for the past 6 years.  It was written by one of their own company members--the theater does outreach to Ireland, I'm not completely clear on that relationship.  It takes place in a pub, and features a pub owner not unlike Scrooge, who experiences a wee epiphany over the eve of Christmas.  No ghosts.  Just customers.  It's sincere as the day is long...and gratefully 90 minutes in length.  The actors were good and they milked the script for all they could get out of it.  Not a bad script, but one that proves once again just how hard it is to write a play.  What it lacked: energy, subtlety, passion.  What it had: sincerity, sweet characters, lousy Irish accents!  But at it's price range I can forgive it's warts. 
Kevin Adams as David "Scrooge" and Mike Kozemchak as his little brother, Michael
Pub regular, Frank, played by Timothy Hayes Lynch, and Polish bartender "Bob Cratchet", Bartek, played by Josh Adams 
The Cast: (L to R) Mike Kozamchak - Michael, Mick Tinder - Richard, Matthew Hirsch - Simon, Caroline Dubberly - Anna, Timothy Hayes Lynch - Frank, Kevin Adams - David, Josh Adams - Bartek, and Mark A. Rhea - Jim (and director)

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