In Play Reviews

The Second City’s A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens is back in town and playing on the Main Stage at Portland Center Stage through December 31.

The play has become a favorite with Portland audiences since its introduction here in 2013. What’s not to like about a complete spoof of the holiday classic, written by Emmy winners Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort?

Twist Your Dickens roughly follows the original Dickens tale. However, the departures are largely improvisational, adult-themed, and completely un-Dickensian, save for a few period costumes.

Second City’s Craig Cackowski returns to Portland for his fourth year as Scrooge. Another Second City veteran is Jaime Moyer, who appears as the Ghost of Christmas Present and others. Local actors fill out the roster, with Chantal DeGroat (Belle and others), Sam Dinkowitz (Ghost of Christmas Past and others), Nicholas Kessler (Ghost of Christmas Future, Bob Cratchit and others), and Lauren Modica (Mrs. Cratchit and others). A great addition to the cast this year is Darius Pierce (Marley and others), who for the past five years performed as Crumpet in that other Portland favorite, The Santaland Diaries.

Lauren Modica, Chantal DeGroat, Sam Dinkowitz, and Craig Cackowski in Twist Your Dickens. Photo by Patrick Weishampel.

Directed by Second City’s Ron West, the show is  well-punctuated with mayhem and misdeeds, audience participation, and references to situations Portlanders will easily recognize. It is updated yearly, and as we all know, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since last year at this time. Prepare to laugh out loud!

The Ghost of Christmas Future (Nicholas Kessler) and Scrooge (Craig Cackowski) encounter surprises in Twist Your Dickens! Photo by Patrick Weishampel.

The Second City is known world-wide for its unique brand of humor and satire, as well as for being the launching pad for generations of comedy superstars, including Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, John Candy, John Belushi, Catherine O’Hara, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, and many more. Recent Second City productions include the Jeff Award-winning Second City Guide to the Opera with Lyric Opera Chicago and the Helen Hayes Award-nominated production of America All Better! at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C. Twist Your Dickens was The Second City’s first stage show to include full sets and costumes.




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