Loose Moose lays down some Chuck D for the holidays

By Kevin de Vlaming

Tis the season of rum and eggnog, gaudy festive decorations and uncomfortable family gatherings. Fortunately, the holidays aren’t all bad. With the season of sleigh bells and strained merriment comes this years’ production of A Chrismoose Carol. Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre Company has been putting on its annual reinvention of the Dickens’ classic for a decade, and each year the costumes and props get a little zanier, the characters are portrayed that much quirkier and the cast find new ways to make the audience feel like they’re a part of the performance.

“What’s so great about Loose Moose’s take on A Christmas Carol is that it gives us a chance to breath life and immediacy into a story that’s otherwise pretty dry by contemporary standards,” says Rob Michelson, this years’ Bob Cratchit.

This definitely isn’t your grandfather’s Christmas Carol; the Loose Moose Theatre presents an irreverently tongue-in-cheek, farcical retelling of the classic Scrooge story. The 2006 production presents something for both newcomers to the Chrismoose experience and old fans alike.

“Anyone who’s seen A Chrismoose Carol before will know what I mean when I say the great big head is back,” says Michelson. “But there will also be a bunch of new surprises this year, including one trade secret I’m sworn to absolute secrecy about.”

While he’s not budging on this season’s biggest surprise, Michelson mentions that theatre-goers can expect to be treated to an over-the-top performance featuring cross-dressing characters, integral audience participation and an extra creepy ghost of Chrismoose future. Like all Loose Moose productions, the performance will also rely largely on the improvisational skills of the ensemble.

“The writing process is actually quite fun,” says Michelson. “Basically Loose Moose artistic director Dennis Cahill casts the show, then we try out the scenes improvising very loosely around Dickens’ original story. What we find funny we stick with for the actual performance, then the rest is made up in front of the audience.”

The Loose Moose Theatre Company’s presentation of a classic gone awry is not to be missed by anyone looking to top off their holiday season with a solid dose of improv-inspired mirth. Michelson, a twelve-year veteran of the Moose, is looking forward to this season’s Chrismoose Carol production for his own reasons.

“You’ve gotta see me in drag,” laughs Michelson. “I look fantastic in my Klondike dress.”

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