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It's a Pretty Good Life 

Thursday, Dec 4 2008
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This scattershot and offbeat musical revisiting of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (book credited to Kathleen Cramer, music to J. Raoul Brody, from a story by Cramer, O-Lan Jones and Andrea Stein) is an idiosyncratic concoction, with a few Christmas themes attached. On X-mas Eve, three eccentric, angelic ladies (Jones, Molly Bryant and Martha Gehman) descend on a theater to present a slapdash production of Dickens’ famous story of Scrooge. The so-called “Three Wise Babes” have no props, costumes or actors, and their previous theatrical attempt — a rap production of “The History of Women’s Rights,” set to saxophone — mortally offended their audience. Nevertheless, the women hold some hasty auditions and are pleased when the perfect Scrooge — wheelchair-bound, paraplegic physics genius Stephen “Hawkings” (John Fleck) — careens into the theater, accompanied by his sexy nurse (Ali Tobia). Director Tony Abatemarco’s energetic but occasionally undisciplined staging boasts some impressively creative and comically charged acting but ultimately in the misbegotten service of a random and incoherent text. Cramer’s gags frequently don’t make sense, while Brody’s darkly philosophical songs belong in some other musical. The muddy wind-tunnel acoustics of the Miles Playhouse play havoc with David O’s sprightly musical direction — many of the lyrics are overpowered by the piano. Still, Jones is always a marvel in whatever show she’s in, and here she dazzles as the boisterously witchy “wise babe” who takes on the show-within-a-show’s directorial chores. And Fleck’s magical transformation from paraplegic to repellant Scrooge is a magnificently bug-eyed turn. Miles Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Dec. 21. (323) 655-2410.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Nov. 28. Continues through Dec. 21, 2008

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