A Stage Review of “Scrooge In Rouge”

By Dee Jae Cox

Scrooge in Rouge, now playing at the Desert Rose Theatre in Rancho Mirage and running through December 21st, offers an unique holiday staging of Charles Dicken’s, “A Christmas Carol.”

Described as an ‘English Pantomime’, Music Hall version of A Christmas Carol. Part British panto and part Victorian peep show, Scrooge in Rouge, is a campy, entertaining romp through the Dicken’s classic tale. With Book & Lyrics by Ricky Graham, Music by Jefferson Turner Additional Material by Jeffrey Roberson (Varla Jean Merman)& Yvette Hargis, this version of the classic, is a ‘play within a play’ as three characters from an English acting troupe are forced to prove the adage ‘the show must go on’ when 20 out of 23 cast members are stricken with food poisoning and force the remaining three to perform all of the roles in the show.

Ryan Dominguez, as Miss Vesta Virile, aka Scrooge, is the highlight. He is engaging and delightful and a real pleasure to watch as he is dragged through the expedited visits from Christmas’ past, present and future. Alexander Todd, stole the show as an Oscar Wilde, rendition of ‘Christmas Present’. What this production lacks in imagination with set and stage design, it more than makes up for with Jennifer Brawn Gittings, costume designs. The costumes are definitely a forth character in this play. I found myself laughing out loud when an audience member was pulled to the stage to fill the role of Tiny Tim and a long bib with tiny crutches was fastened around his neck.

Steven Smith’s live musical direction really adds life and color to the show, it is a steady back beat of ambiance and mood. While I would not categorize ‘Scrooge in Rouge’ as a show for all audiences, it’s target is definitely gay men, it’s humor and comedy does offer entertainment for those who are just looking for a fun evening out and a little holiday cheer. Singing, dancing and a bit of raunchy humor, Scrooge in Rouge is definitely worth as see. Just leave the kids at home.

While they state their mission is to serve the local and tourist LGBT communities The Desert Rose Theatre, has zero stars in my Gender Equity ‘Stars on Broadway’ rating, not a single female playwright or production with a female audience in mind lined up in their season. But it’s a great space for intimate theatre. Artistic Director Jim Strait and Managing Director Paul Taylor run the show and they do it with professionalism and creativity.

Scrooge in Rouge, runs through December 21, 2014

The Desert Rose Playhouse is located at 69-620 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

For Tickets: www.desertroseplayhouse.org

Dee Jae Cox, is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project and the host of KPTR 1450’s hit radio show, “California Woman 411” in Palm Springs.

Photos by Jim Strait