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Theater Review: Everyone Deserves A Laugh Break, And ‘What The Dickens’ Delivers



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NEW MILFORD — TheatreWorks New Milford has a hilarious, farcical take on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on stage this month.

What the Dickens, a silly and very entertaining piece, was written by Matt Austin, in collaboration with his many equally silly, theater loving friends. Using a broad range of references, Austin and company strung together a non-stop laugh fest.

While Austin is indeed the playwright, he has enjoyed and utilized input from castmates and dear friends alike to create this piece. The variety of gags and characters is evidence of not only their individual creativity, but also their love of the craft as well.

The cast for the current production features exceptional comedic talent, including Matt Austin, Jody Bayer, Billy Dempster, Bob Lussier, Gary Miller, and Jenny Schuck. All are regulars of community theater, and each brings a level of enthusiasm and hilarity that is hard to match.

References in this original piece cover a broad range of sources, none of which will be revealed here. Leave it to be said, they are surprising and very amusing.

What can be shared is this: Moving the place and time to 1949, Brooklyn, N.Y., changed the backdrop of the reconfigured classic. That was accommodated with a wonderful set design by Leif Smith.

As director, Austin keeps a pace which fuels the antics and left last weekend’s Saturday night audience laughing all the way.

Put What the Dickens on your holiday schedule. Everyone deserves a laugh break during the hectic holiday season, and this period piece provides just that.

Performances continue through December 18. Curtain is Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; and Sunday, December 12, at 2 pm.

Tickets are $25. Students, military personnel and veterans with ID will be admitted for $20. Reservations can be made online at theatreworks.us or by calling 860-350-6863.

The running time of the show is approximately 75 minutes.

Due to some language and innuendo within What the Dickens, the show is not recommended for children under 13.

Please also note that for this production, TheatreWorks requires all patrons to wear masks and have proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hour time frame. Have some form of photo ID ready to show.

What the Dickens, a silly and very entertaining piece written by Matt Austin in collaboration with many theater friends, is being offered for two more weekends at TheatreWorks New Milford. The cast features, from left, Matt Austin, Billy Dempster, Jody Bayer, Bob Lussier, Jenny Schuck, Gary Millar, and Delaney Dempster. —Richard Pettibone photo
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