Stonington Players bring on the comedy with "Scrooge Macbeth"

Daniel Masakowski of Stonington, left, and John Lamar of Gales Ferry rehearse for the production of "Scrooge Macbeth" at the Stonington Community Center.
Daniel Masakowski of Stonington, left, and John Lamar of Gales Ferry rehearse for the production of "Scrooge Macbeth" at the Stonington Community Center. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo

Imagine a mash-up of Shakespeare and "A Christmas Carol."

Playwright David MacGregor has.

His comedy, saucily titled "Scrooge Macbeth" and being performed this weekend and next by the Stonington Players, brings together characters from The Bard's greatest works and those from many a holiday production.

The "Romeo and Juliet" balcony scene is crashed by a Dickensian character.

"The Night Before Christmas" gets an Othello makeover.

Lady Macbeth sits on Santa Claus's lap to tell him what she wants to Christmas: hand sanitizer.

The framing device is this: A community theater group is gearing up to stage their big Shakespeare "Winter's Tale" Christmas extravaganza when six cast members are hospitalized with food poisoning. One character - Bob the plumber, who acts as a hobby - suggests the ensemble just perform "A Christmas Carol," as they have done every year. His wife, however, says that audiences haven't been turning out for "Carol."

Another actor has an idea: Why not do both? Why not do a Christmasy Shakespeare and a Shakespearean Christmas?

So they do.

The production of "Scrooge Macbeth" is just the latest of several original plays that the Stonington Players have performed in recent years. They started doing a round-up of original one-acts for their "Tables and Chairs" series.

They then asked some of those "Tables and Chairs" playwrights if they had any full-length works the Players might consider performing.

MacGregor, a dramatist from Michigan, submitted "Scrooge Macbeth" and won the group over.

Regan Morse, who is directing the Stonington Players production, recalls the group's reading committee's reaction.

"We were sitting around and doing our reading thing, trying to pick a full-length play. We all started snorting and laughing and trying to continue reading," she says. "Most of us could see it so clearly, what the comedy was. There's a lot of very physical comedy in it, which I love watching."

She says she was laughing out loud when seeing the actors rehearse a Julius Caesar ballet, with a nod to "The Nutcracker."

What Morse likes, too, about the show's storyline is "it's about a theater company that's got an enormous amount of heart and is trying so hard. ... They like being onstage. They like being the stars. This is their outlet for being creative. I think - I'm hoping - the audience goes away really liking these (characters) because, although they are dysfunctional and clumsy and not terribly talented, they have enormous heart and they really do believe that theater is wonderful."

"Scrooge Macbeth," Stonington Community Center, 28 Cutler St.; Stonington Players; opens Fri. and runs through May 4; 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; $12; (860) 389-0491.

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