What Blazing Saddles did to the western, what Young Frankenstein did to the 
horror movie, what High Anxiety did to Alfred Hitchcock’s oeuvre, this is what A 
Christmas Twist does to Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol … and the result is the 
funniest Christmas show of this year’s holiday season.

The nuts of the Illegitimate Players Theater Company (Doug Armstrong, Keith 
Cooper, Maureen Morley, and Tom Willmorth) have taken the classic Christmas 
Carol characters (Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley’s ghost, Belle, and the 
three Christmas ghosts), blended in Fagin and Mr. Bumble from Oliver Twist, 
combined Tiny Tim with Oliver Twist to create a bald 20ish disabled character 
named Tiny Twist, and thrown in Little Orphan Annie (here christened Little Artful 
Annie) … and voila, the result is A Christmas Twist, a show Mel Brooks would be 
happy to call his own.

The puns and one-liners come fast and furious in A Christmas Twist, and are all 
the funnier because the actors play it (mostly) straight.  (Kudos to director Paul 
Wagar for keeping the pace swift and his actors all on the same page.)

Bob Cratchit:  (to Scrooge) The fire has gone out.
Scrooge: (hurt) You mean it’s not exciting for you anymore?

Mr. Bumble:  (referring to Tiny Twist) He’s as brazen as a whore with warts.

Mr. Bumble: (to Scrooge) You are as harsh as a gruel enema.

The Carolers: (asking Scrooge for a Christmas donation) What should we put you 
down for?
Scrooge: My poor posture? My bad attitude?

Scrooge: (to the Ghost of Christmas past) What if I should refuse to go with you?
Ghost: Then we shall proceed directly to the disembowelment.
Scrooge: (quickly) I’m coming.

Scrooge: (to Mr. Bumble) Now leave my presence!
Mr. Bumble: But you said we weren’t going to exchange this year!

If the gags lose something when written, trust me, I haven’t laughed this loud in 
quite a while.

Those looking for political correctness in A Christmas Twist had better look 
elsewhere, because in the Mel Brooks tradition (Remember “Springtime for 
Hitler?”), there isn’t any.

Much is made of Tiny Twist’s crutch and weak leg.  When Fagin protests to Mr. 
Bumble that he doesn’t want to buy a cripple (his word, not mine), Bumble 
simply pulls away the crutch, and the poor (and not so) Tiny Twist keeps falling 
every time he’s not being propped up by another of the characters. Unable to 
do much other than simply hold himself up when using his cane, Tiny Twist’s 
attempts to pick pockets are pitiful indeed. On Christmas morning, when the 
newly reformed Scrooge visits the Cratchit family, there is toast after toast and 
each time, poor weak Tiny Twist is forced to stand, again and again. Then   
there’s the pregnant Belle, with a wine glass in one hand and a cigarette in the 
other. (Three guesses as to why Tiny Twist was born handicapped.)

Tera Struck deserves high marks for her clever costumes. Marley wears the de 
rigueur chains, but also a string of Mardi Gras beads and a pair of big felt dice, 
the kind that hang from a rearview mirror. The Ghost of Christmas Past arrives 
dressed like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, with a pale blue silk gown, a tiara, and 
a sparkly magic wand which (thanks to sound designer Christopher Moscatiello) 
kind of quacks when she waves it.  Christmas Present wears a black biker’s jacket 
and a bright red taffeta petticoat.  Then there’s Christmas Future covered 
entirely in black and seven feet tall. (I won’t reveal the hilarious sight gag which 
goes with the costume.)  Oh, and there’s also the appropriately renamed Mr. 
Fuzzywig … wearing an enormous brown fuzzy afro hiding all but his mouth.

Quincy Miller makes a delightfully deadpan Tiny Twist, Matt Saxe is appropriately 
proper and stuffy as Mr. Bumble, Anna Quirino Miranda is a cute and spunky 
Annie (wait for the Act 2 sight gag with her eyes), and Richard Tatum is grouchy 
Scrooge personified. (All but Tatum appear in other roles as well.)  Andy DeCarlo 
and Tracy Eliott do very funny double duty, first as Bob and Emily Cratchit, and 
later as (respectively) Marley’s ghost and the ditzy Ghost of Christmas Past.  Ann 
Simmons creates three quirky characters including red-petticoated Christmas 
Present. Best of the bunch is Peter Ross Stephens deliciously over-the-top as the 
dastardly Fagin, at times channeling Marty Feldman big eyes and all. (Stephens 
gets to play Fuzzywig as well.)

Christmas may be over until December 25, 2008, but it’s not too late to keep the 
holiday spirit alive and full of laughter. A Christmas Twist runs through Sunday 
January 5th. If your sense of humor is as twisted as mine is, your sure to have a 

Note: All roles except those played by Miller, Tatum, and Eliott are double cast, 
and Stephens’ alternate (as Fagin and Fuzzywig) is of the female gender. The 
photos accompanying this review feature Douglas Leal in the roles played by 
Andy DeCarlo at the performance I attended.

The Ark Theatre, 1647 S. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles. 

–Steven Stanley
December 27, 2007

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