The story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been told in so many ways, who could imagine a new one? Anthony Caporale and Nicole DiMattei of The Imbible (#ThirstyTheater) found a way. Christmas Carol Cocktails opened at the Producer’s Club Theaters in NYC on November 22, and “Un-Block The Music” was at this season’s first performance. The show has been running during the holiday season for the last few years. And, “Un-Block The Music” can tell you, Scrooge is a lot more likeable when you have a Christmas Cocktail in your hand…or three to be more specific.
Just in case, you are running across one of “Un-Block The Music’s Imbible stories for the first time, let me describe. The Imbible shows offer a history of cocktails with song and dance and with three cocktails served to you as part of the show. After speaking with Anthony about how, as a mixologist, he created an a cappella musical, and then later with Josh Ehrlich about the musical arrangements and the original music, I thought it would be fun to speak to one of the actors that helps bring the stories to life. Maryanne Burr took some time out of her busy day to chat with me. In addition to being part of every performance of Christmas Carol Cocktails, she also performs in Day Drinking on Sundays.
The premise of the show is that Jacob Barley (no, I didn’t spell it wrong), comes to Scrooge after the night of his redemption. Scrooge wants to throw a party, and Jacob is there to teach him how to plan a party and serve some fascinating drinks. It has been a year since Maryanne joined the casts. “Un-Block The Music” asked what drew her to the show. Maryanne is originally from Phoenix and earned her BFA from Azusa Pacific University. When she found out that there was a show primarily chorale and quartet singing, she knew auditioning was a must. “It is a musical challenge, but it is so rewarding when you find that voice all together.” Although the same four cast members are part of Christmas Carol Cocktails all of the time, the other shows, offer different casts for each show. “Sometimes you have to listen more than you sing.,” Maryanne laughs. The original music written by Josh Ehrlich in the Day Drinking show is most challenging, she says.
While all of The Imbible shows are reactive, “Un-Block The Music” noticed that this show, more than the other two I have seen thus far, has a real party atmosphere. I am not sure whether that has to do with the holiday spirit or the way the show is set up. The first two shows I attended were at The New World Stages. The audience is close to the performers and there is interaction there, however, the Producer’s Club is smaller and some of the audience is actually on the stage. The show and its music feels very familiar.
Towards the end of the show, the audience is asked to participate in an “original” version of the “12 Days of Christmas”. Let’s just say, the group that was behind me really had their “strong” voices” on! “It can be a challenge “Staying on key with the audience singing. It is not always perfect but we find out way back,” Maryanne laughs. “The audience is really invested! The show’s message is long lasting and it is a great way to celebrate the season!” And, because it is reactive, the show is different every night.
Like the other two shows I have seen, the actors talk about the history of drinking and the culture at the time. The monologs sometimes are long, and “Un-Block The Music” admires the actors’ stamina. With no instruments to detract, all eyes and ears are on the performer who has to be entertaining while teaching a lesson.
Maryanne says, this show has helped hone her comedic chops, and working with an ensemble cast is always great. “Nicole and Anthony have the best eyes for casting; using down to earth people that can work together.” In addition to her work at The Imbible, Maryanne is working with another cast member, Meghan Callahan, to develop a sketch series to be viewed online. She also writes her own songs. “The Imbible” encourages a creative environment and Maryanne says she is definitely in “the season of creating.”
As an audience member, if you don’t want to participate in the show, that’s not a problem. Just sit back and enjoy…who can refuse Wine Ice Cream????
The Imbible Christmas Carol Cocktails runs through December 28. For tickets, go to: https://imbible.nyc/christmas-carol-cocktails/
Here are “Un-Block The Music’s” other Imbible stories.