It’s that time of year again. We bundle up and watch some holiday magic. But, what tends to bother me about Christmas shows is that they are all the same. Some guy (usually grouchy) learns to love again, learns that family is all that matters in life, learns that giving is better than receiving, and we all gather around to enjoy this same old story. That is not the case with “Sorry! Wrong Chimney” at Camarillo Skyway Playhouse. A holiday show for audiences who aren’t looking for the scrooge trope.
Sorry! Wrong Chimney was written by Jack Sharkey and Leo W. Sears and follows the common dressings that go with a farce. You have bawdy comedy, mistaken identity, hiding in rooms, changing clothes, and even the random weapon. Admittedly, I have never been a huge fan of the formulaic farce. But I will say this one had me entertained throughout. The show was mostly well paced other than a strange “act break” before the intermission that seemed to stall the action, but the cast jumped right back into it.
The story follows David Tuttle (Anthony Baldonado) who is working 2 jobs to keep his newly wed wife, Samantha (Amy Hagler) happy with a surprise sable under the tree- just like Ertha Kitt asked for. Their relationship is struggling with his absence and of course leads to some suspicion. Baldonado and Hagler pull of the “married couple” chemistry convincingly enough but really shine apart. Baldonado in his nebish nervousness as the action ramps up; and Hagler (in her debut performance) shows a range of emotions from temptress to terrified, from jealous to joyful.
Making matters worse for the couple is the nosy neighbor Natalie Weldon (played by Cassie Kelso) and her husband William (Scott Blanchard.) Kelso’s performance brings a dash of humor, spice, and perfectly unfortunate timing that keep the story going and the laughs coming. Blanchard brings dry wit, sarcasm, and hubris as the hypnotist psychologist. I wish there was more tet-a-tet between those two characters, but it was more than made up for with Hagler and Blanchard’s opening gambit. A sardonic “will they/won’t they” that is humorously one-sided. While an interaction like that could have been misconstrued as decidedly sexist, director John Comstock has found a way to make it likable and tongue in cheek without falling into the trap.
Things get really strange when Kris Kreigle (Christopher Rubin) shows up. A delusional Santa and unwitting criminal who, as per the rules of farce, gets mistaken for David. Without giving up too much plot, this is where the story really finds its legs. It adds the drama, the screaming, the chasing, and the weapon- in the hands of the talented Tessa Parker who plays Shelia. While the part of Shelia seems to be written as a mere exposition delivery device, Parker makes her human and connects with Rubin’s vulnerable and sympathetic Kreigle. They are a toned-down Bonny and Clyde whose relationship only strengthens after the beard comes off, and we get to see that Rubin's character is more than a man in a red suit.
Things look bad for our cohort once the cops show up. But never fear, the Policeman (played by Stan McConnell) steals the show. McConnell’s physical humor shines and he’s a treat for the audience (don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
I left Camarillo Skyway’s production of Sorry! Wrong Chimney with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart more ready than ever for the holiday season.
Sorry! Wrong Chimney runs till November 24th Show times are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2.