This holiday season, in association with Guys in Disguise, Darrin Hagen’s With Bells On returns to Lunchbox Theatre where it was first produced in 2010.
Directed by Hagen, With Bells On is a fabulous comedy that celebrates the holiday spirit by taking it to new heights.
Ted (Stafford Perry) is a young divorcé stuck with a lousy apartment and lackluster social life. One night, riding in the apartment’s elevator, Ted runs into Natasha (Paul Welch) – a statuesque drag queen dressed as a Christmas tree. Natasha’s dream of competing for the title of ‘Christmas Queen’ that night is in jeopardy when the elevator abruptly stops.
Life is full of ups and downs, and we move right with it in every direction. So, what happens when it just stops? In this pause, what is that we discover about ourselves and each other?
Hagen uses Ted and Natasha’s momentary pause from the business of everyday life to reflect on loneliness – a feeling exacerbated by this particular time of the year. This loneliness though is just not about being alone, but feeling lonely in a crowd. And so, when the opportunity presents itself to Ted and Natasha to make a real, human connection with a stranger – it is at once both exciting and terrifying.
And the audience is right there with the two characters who eventually discover that deep down, they are not so different after all.
With Bells On is a lot of fun. Hagen surprises us with just how much can be done in such a small space – after all, this is a stranded elevator. And the unlikely friendship that grows here is a joy to watch.
Welch’s stage presence radiates confidence from the moment he enters the theatre. His ability to turn on the dime between Natasha’s feminine speaking voice and a deep bass voice accentuates Natasha’s sharply written, hilarious dialogue which is ripe with sarcasm and innuendos.
But what truly makes the play such a success is that it delivers on many levels at the end its premise of a drag queen on her way to a competition.
Perry absolutely nails his performance as Welch’s back-up dancer. What makes the spectacle so great, beyond the lights and the music, is that it is a moment Perry has earned. He plays so well the timid accountant who yearns for more in his life that when we see Perry dancing up a storm, the audience can barely contain their applause. It is an electric end to a marvelous production.
Overall, Hagen’s With Bells On celebrates joy and goodwill in a delightfully unconventional way. It is no surprise that the show sold out as quickly as it did. Driven by excellent performances, Lunchbox Theatre’s holiday production leaves audiences feeling warm all over.
Darrin Hagen’s With Bells On runs at Lunchbox Theatre from Dec 1 – 24th, 2014.
For more information about the show, visit: http://www.lunchboxtheatre.com/calendar/2014/12/1-with-bells-on