Christmas is a holiday whose origins are lost in the mists of time, a mash-up of pagan and Christian traditions. It's very difficult to pull apart the threads and find where certain traditions began. However, there is one well-documented event that changed the face of Christmas forever. In 1843, British novelist Charles Dickens decided to write a Christmas story that also would shine a light on the lives of the poor.

The result was A Christmas Carol. Although the short novel was set firmly in Victorian London, the archetypal themes immediately resonated across cultures and times.

In the 168 years since the story was published, it has become unnecessary to actually read it. There have been at least 20 different movie versions of it, starting all the way back in 1901. There have also been more than 20 different television productions of it (the first animated Christmas special ever shown on TV was Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol in 1962). And then there are the theatrical adaptations. It would be impossible to count all the ways the story has been told on stage. The Kansas City Repertory Theatre has been doing the show for 31 years.

With all the different versions to pick from, one would think that we don't need another adaptation to fill the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the Unicorn Theatre begs to differ. For our holiday enjoyment, they present us a version written in 1994 - The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge.

There's nothing new about the story of The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge. It's the same well-known tale. But it has a twist that takes it out of Victorian England and makes it uniquely American. Iggy Scrooge turns Ebenezer into Ignatius, a rock star who is so jaded and cynical that his own band members are afraid of him. After a Christmas Eve concert, Iggy takes some acid, kills a bottle of whiskey, and is promptly visited by ghosts of dead rock stars. These ghosts take Iggy on a tour of his life, causing him to regain the life that he had been missing.

The show is directed by Missy Koonce, who has a weird talent for coaxing her actors into combining zany antics with serious contemplation. This talent is perfectly utilized in Iggy Scrooge, as the somewhat sappy lessons that Scrooge learns are offset by over-the-top humor that still provides a resonance with the subject.

Another of Koonce's strengths is working with musical material. And there are a lot of musical numbers in the show. Although it's advertised as a rock 'n' roll show, that's not quite accurate. It's almost a survey of 20th-century American music. There are rock songs, Cajun songs, '50s pop, even Huey Lewis and the News. This variety keeps the show lively and enjoyable. Koonce makes sure her cast can not only act the roles, but also can perform musically.

Iggy is played by Matthew Rapport, who comes across as a mix of Ozzy Osbourne and Axl Rose. Rapport is quite believable as the foul-mouthed, sexist cynic whose ego is bigger than the auditoriums he plays in. Although his transformation into a good guy may not be totally believable, that is a consequence of the character, not his acting. He does a good job of using the boundaries of what he's allowed to do with such a well-known character.

The rest of the cast members play multiple characters, and for the most part, they are quite good. Matthew McAndrews is especially notable as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Buddy Holly. He gets the goofy '50s rock style perfectly, with just the right amount of self-mockery. Matt Weiss plays a younger Scrooge. He does a great job of being his own person, but hinting at some of the personality traits that his older version exhibits in full glory.

The other standout is Ron Megee. He plays an incredibly wide range of characters. He goes from a horny groupie to a masochistic nun (complete with latex wimple). After that he brilliantly invokes the spirit of Tim Conway as a lonely old janitor who keeps Iggy company between his ghost visitations. And finally he becomes the Ghost of Christmas Present - Elvis Presley.

Impersonating Elvis Presley is tricky business. There are so many Elvis impersonators out there that everybody knows what he is "supposed" to act like. A bad Elvis impersonation can ruin the whole mood. Megee wisely sidesteps the dilemma by not trying to make an accurate portrayal of The King at all. Rather, Megee provides the audience with a caricature of Elvis. It's certainly a good enough impersonation to be instantly recognizable. But it's exaggerated in all the right places so that you can enjoy the comedic interpretation without judging how well Megee "got" Elvis. You can just let go and enjoy the encounter.

In the end, that's the main point of this show. We all know the story, and we all know that the world doesn't really need another version of A Christmas Carol. But just let yourself go. Enjoy it. It's a fun musical - and it might just brighten your Christmas spirit a little, too.

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