A Klingon Christmas Carol
By Christopher O. Kidder & Sasha Walloch
A Trekkie holiday mind-meld of Dickensian proportions
|Commedia Beauregard Theatre presents|
|A Klingon Christmas Carol|
Review by J.H. Palmer
A Klingon Christmas Carol has something of a cult following; among the audience members on opening night were a dedicated few dressed to the teeth in full Klingon costume, including ridged forehead prosthetics. Commedia Beauregard’s stated mission is “to translate the universal human experience to the stage: to expand our horizons and share knowledge of all cultures, translating between languages and between arts to create theater that is beautiful in expression.” In pursuit of that mission, they once again bring the self-described “only full-length play ever produced completely in the Klingon language (tlhIngan Hol) from the Star Trek movies and TV shows,” to the stage.
KCC is an adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol translated into a language that only a handful of diehard Trekkies speak, performed in all seriousness by trained actors who have committed the Klingon transcript to memory, with English supertitles for those who don’t speak tlhIngan Hol. It holds up surprisingly well; the storyline is easy to follow, and the actors imbue their characters with a Dickensian energy infused with a healthy dose of bloodlust.
As the narrator of the classic tale, Sara Wolfson leads the audience through the familiar story of Scrooge (or SQuja’ in Klingon, played by Kevin Alves), on what is known as the “Feast of the Long Night Song” (Klingons have no god or Christ), his assistant Bob Crachit (QachIt, played by Kai Young), and the spirits who visit him over the course of one night: Chris Lysy as Jacob Marley (marlI); Zack Livingston as the Ghost of Christmas Past (Kahless Past); Philip Zimmermann as the Ghost of Christmas Present (Kahless Present); and Manuel Twillie, Jr. as the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come (Kahless Yet-To-Come).
The actors’ interpretations of their characters are easily recognizable, yet refreshingly different from the usual incarnation. Alves’ Scrooge is crotchety and stubborn, with a wry sense of humor that surfaces during key moments. Act I introduces the story of Scrooge and Crachit, and leads the audience through Scrooge’s meetings with the ghosts of Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past. Act II picks up with Philip Zimmerman’s authoritative Ghost of Christmas Present, and moves into Manuel Twillie Jr.’s Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come, who has a presence as strong as any I’ve seen.
The Klingon background provides endless opportunities for imaginative re-invention of the tale, including stage battles expertly choreographed by Zach Livingston, and a Tiny Tim (tImHom) represented by a puppet operated by Alison Faraj.
Initially skeptical of the Star Trek themed premise, over the course of the two acts I became wrapped up in the story, following the action and reading the supertitles as if I were at an opera sung in Italian. By the end of Act II, it genuinely satisfied my taste for a good story to see SQuja’ sharing a table with QachIt-and-family, and I left the theater with a great admiration for the imagination and thoroughness of the translators and lyricist, whom I’m certain had never worked on a project like this before. KCC is a fun twist on a classic holiday tale, detailed enough for the true blue Trekkie, but accessible and entertaining enough for everyone else.
Future performances of KCC include special appearances by guest celebrities (see list below). Commedia Beauregard is still looking for a few more "celebrity" guest stars to join the cast in a one time performance, with a portion of the box office going to the charity of their choice. Anyone with a passion for Star Trek, or theatre, and can bring in a crowd is welcome! Full makeup will be provided. Future celebrities include:
December 11th- Brian Babylon (Chicago comic, radio host and self proclaimed Prince of Bronzeville.)
December 18th- Kaylee Williams (Actress and Scream Queen.)
A Klingon Christmas Carol continues through December 31st at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:30pm. Tickets are $32, and are available online here (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at cbtheatre.org. (Running time: play length, which includes one intermission)
Kevin Alves (SQuja’ aka Scrooge), Sara Wolfson (narrator), Kai Young (QachIt aka Bob Cratchit), Jake Jones, Clark Bender, Zach Serota, Chris Lysy, Zack Livingston, Ellen Cribbs, Kai Young, Andrew Brown-Thomas, Jen Usellis Mackay, Clark Bender, Ashley Boots, Manuel Twillie, Jr., Christina Romano, Chris Lysy, Christina Romano, Alison Faraj, Zack Livingston, Zachary Serota, Manuel Twillie, Jr., Philip Zimmermann, Ellen Cribbs, Jen Usellis Mackay, Ashley Boots, Alison Faraj, Ashley Boots, Andrew Brown-Thomas, Manuel Twillie, Jr., Phil Zimmermann, Jake Jones, Andrew Brown-Thomas, Ali Mostrom (female understudy)
behind the scenes
Christopher O. Kidder (director, graphics); Eric Van Tassell (asst. director); Laura Thurston, Bill Hedrick, Christopher O. Kidder (Klingon translations); Chris Lipscombe (additional translations, content); Terrence Donnelly (qu’wI’ lyrics); Mike Hallenbeck (original score); Nikki Marquardt (stage manager); Il Troubador (musical score); Zach Livingston (fight choreography); Jeff Kehoe (weapons master); Devon Mackay (tech director); Forest Godfrey (lighting, special effects); Christopher O. Kidder (scenic design); Ian Feigl (sound); Jeff Stolz (costumes); Bill Hedrick (prosthetic design); Kat Pleviak, Sea Beast Puppet Company (puppet design); Chris Lipscombe, Tracy Canfield, Michael Roney Jr. (language coaches); Guy F. Wicke, Ed Dempsey (publicity)
All photos by Guy F. Wicke. Photos and video from last year’s production.