Atlanta’s venerable improv house is up to its old tricks again. For the holidays, a surprise character “invades” each performance of the scripted classic A Christmas Carol, and the actors of the traditional story must adapt on the fly. The results are, per usual for Dad’s Garage Theatre, irreverent and hilarious.
“No two shows are ever the same,” said Maged Roushdi, who plays Scrooge each night in Invasion: Christmas Carol, staging now through Dec. 29. “I would recommend coming to as many as possible. People tell me that they’re bummed for missing something all the time.”
Matthew Terrell, the local gay artist who is also communications director for Dad’s Garage, concurs.
“Every performance, a new improvised character – a.k.a. “Invader” – jumps into the show to completely derail the storyline,” Terrell said. “Imagine Mrs. Claus showing up to find her long lost love, Scrooge. Or what if Frosty the Snowman shows up? Or a T-Rex? Seriously, every performance of Invasion: Christmas Carol is a new experience.”
Already in 2021, Frankenstein, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have gummed up the Dickensian works. In years past, the Spice Girls invaded Pride Night. Anything can happen.
The show is always inclusive and full of surprises, and on Dec. 17, it welcomes the Gays For Plays social group and all other comers for a Pride Night edition of the show. Details are under wraps to keep the surprises flowing, but expect some good old fashioned gay mayhem.
“I am beyond excited,” Roushdi said. “This is my favorite show to watch and be a part of. The fact that it’s the same and different every night is so enticing for me. Sometimes we have invaders that I didn’t even know I wanted to invade.”
“This style of show lends itself to community nights and what better community than the LGBTQIA+,” he continued. “This performance is special because the audience really can affect the show and being able to see a Christmas Carol changed in real time, based on their laughs, is super special.
“I hope the audience leaves feeling like they were a part of the show in a way that changes A Christmas Carol for them moving forward.”
Terrell said it’s an easy show to recommend.
“Have you ever laughed so hard that your face is in a permanent grin afterwards?” Terrell asked. “That’s what seeing Invasion is like. This show will make you laugh. It may even restore your faith in humanity. At least, if you are having a bad day or bad week you’ll leave feeling much better.”
Something for your ‘bah humbug’
Speaking of new, healthier holiday traditions, Invasion: Christmas Carol can be a cure for what ails some people during the holidays. Irreverent fun can be a cure for the dumps many experience, especially for LGBTQ audience members who may be disenfranchised.
“We’re all in this awful world together,” Roushdi said. “Having a place to share those experiences can be fun. In fact, we’ve already run into situations where a seemingly innocuous line elicits a huge response from the audience and we discover together what sort of show we want it to be that night.”
The last couple years of pandemic and politics make that commitment even more prescient for Terrell, he said.
“Our theatre has been dark pretty much since March 2020, so we are extremely excited to welcome folks back to our space,” he said.
Roushdi said amidst the laughter, there’s a very real bonus with Invasion.
“It turns Christmas Carol on its head, but still attempts to deliver a story of redemption and reclamation,” he said. “I’m proud of the show that we’re doing, and I’d love to share it with as many people as possible.”
And Terrell offers more encouragement for you to attend on Dec. 17 or any other night.
“Since this is improv, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Several years ago, Scrooge accidentally lost his shorts in one performance and everyone saw his package.”
Invasion: Christmas Carol stages most nights through Dec. 29. Visit Dad’s Garage Theatre for tickets. $5 off tickets to Pride Night on Dec. 17 with code IXC2021FAN.