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Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Derby Show from Le Petomane Is “Brilliant Stuff.”


Abigail Bailey-Maupin, Tony Dingman, Kristie
Rolape & Gregory Maupin in A Derby Carol.
Photo courtesy of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble.

Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble presents A Derby Carol

Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley

Entire contents are copyright © 2012, Craig Nolan Highley.  All rights reserved.

I am going to make a confession that will probably get me lynched this time of year: I am a lifetime resident of Louisville, and I don’t go nuts for the Derby.

I have been to the race only once (and that was many, many years ago) and I have seen the spectacle of Thunder over Louisville maybe twice. I am just not into it. And that’s why I found myself oddly rooting against the whole plot of Le Petomane’s new show A Derby Carol, which premiered Thursday night at The Bard’s Town.

Don’t get me wrong. It is a clever show that puts a fun, local spin on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and is performed with gusto by a flawless cast. It’s just that in this case, I was right there with Scrooge and saw no reason for him to change his ways!

The show begins with a rousing opening musical number, followed by a very bizarre and somehow riveting solo dance number by the Scrooge character (performed by Gregory Maupin in a dead-on impersonation of Hunter S. Thompson). In this case, Scrooge despises the Derby and all the pageantry that goes with it, and he is soon visited by a series of Spirits (Derby Past, Present and Yet to Come) in a series of funny vignettes that range from okay to downright hysterical.

Highlights of the evening include a Ghost of Derby Past imagined as the Wizard of Oz, a “We Are the World” style number immortalizing Louisville-born Ned Beatty, and Tiny Tim (in this case an anorexic jockey) singing an Oliver!-inspired “Where is Lunch?” Some truly brilliant stuff here, folks. Original plays in the Louisville area rarely are this good.

The minimal set and lighting and sound designs by Suzanne Hoehne and Emily Ruddock service the show nicely, and the work of an un-credited costume designer (knowing Le Petomane, likely a unified company effort) really sells the piece.

The whole thing runs less than 90 minutes and was so much fun that the time just flew by. And considering the theater group is named after a performer known for his ability to fart artistically (true story, look it up!), the show is amazingly clean and family friendly.

If, like me, you are underwhelmed by the whole Derby pomp and circumstance, you might still find this show a diverting experience. If you like to go all-out for the big race, then you really need to add this show to your Derby festivities. Either way, you are in for a fun evening. Enjoy!

A Derby Carol
Created, staged and performed by Heather Burns, Tony Dingman, Abigail Bailey Maupin, Gregory Maupin, Kristie Rolape and Kyle Ware.

April 19-23
April 25-29
7:30 p.m. each night

Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble
At The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
http://www.lepetomane.org/

Tickets: $8-$20 on the usual Le Petomane sliding scale
Contact Us@LePetomane.org or (502)609-2520 for tickets.



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