Laughter galore at the Off Broadway Theatre’s ‘Muffets Christmas Carol’Nov 30, 2020 02:09PM ● By Katherine Weinstein
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
“We decided to do shows that were bigger than life, that people hadn’t seen before,” said Artistic Director Eric Jensen, describing the shows that the Off Broadway Theatre is known for. His quote is an apt description of “The Muffets Christmas Carol,” a family comedy now playing on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre this month.
“The Muffets Christmas Carol” is a comic twist on Dickens’ classic story of redemption and forgiveness in which a miserly grouch learns the errors of his ways after being visited by several ghosts. The tale is narrated by Little Miss Muffet and presented by life-sized “puppets”—actually, actors wearing foam and faux-fur costumes.
“The characters are similar to the Muppets,” Jensen said. The show is a spoof of the Muppets with characters like “Hermit the Frog,” “Tiny Bird,” “Elbow” and “Kooky Monster.” “It feels like watching a show with old friends,” Jensen said.
The plot is a mash-up of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol” with jokes that are written to appeal to kids and adults alike. The original script is typical of the Off Broadway Theatre’s shows which are filled with parody and offbeat humor. Recent productions include “Star Ward,” a space farce that gently poked fun at Utah culture and the Disney spoof, “Cutie and the Beast.”
The Off Broadway Theatre has been staging original comedies, parodies and improvisational comedy since it was founded in 1994 in downtown Salt Lake City. The name refers to the proximity of the theater’s original performance space to 300 East, also known as Broadway.
When the building that housed the Off Broadway Theatre was sold last year, Jensen and his wife, Founder and Executive Director Sandy Hubble Jensen, began looking for other performance venues. They landed at Draper Historic Theatre last summer. “It’s a natural fit, a good partnership,” said Craig Haycock, chairman of the board at Draper Historic Theatre.
Draper Historic Theatre is an educational theater and the Off Broadway Theatre is also dedicated to developing talent and fostering learning through the creative expression of the theatrical arts. “We want to give people an experience—actors, tech people, stage management, volunteers—and let them know they are loved and important,” Jensen said.
The Off Broadway Theatre presented “Cutie and the Beast” and “Dracula vs. The Addams Family” at Draper Historic Theatre in August and October respectively. Six shows are planned for next year. “The Littlest Mermaid,” is scheduled to be performed in February. Auditions will be held after the holidays.
The cast, crew and management of both the Off Broadway Theatre and Draper Historic Theatre are taking extra precautions to keep the shows running as safely as possible during the pandemic. The actors are wearing masks and temperatures are routinely checked. In the audience, patrons are being seated in alternate rows with three empty seats between parties.
“We’re very conscious of social distancing,” Jensen said. “We spray down every seat in the house after every rehearsal and performance and sterilize the air after every show.”
Remaining performances of “The Muffets Christmas Carol” will be presented Nov. 20, 21, 23, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Draper Historic Theatre, 12366 S. 900 East in Draper. For tickets, visit https://www.theobt.org/