Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

Inspecting Carol Ideal Holiday Treat for NTC

Novato Theater Company just opened on November 29th with Daniel Sullivan and Seattle Rep’s madcap comedy Inspecting Carol, a backstage spoof of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This play is about a small professional theatre company in a mid-size city of the Mid-West. The company strives to maintain funding, even as they suffer financial cuts. They learn that they will be inspected in order to receive a grant. As more and more things go wrong, the company tries to deal with each other while getting through the show.

According to Director James Nelson, “Inspecting Carol takes us backstage at the Soapbox Playhouse, a theatre once ripe with inspiration and alive with creative spirit. Years later, as the company works to churn out another Annual Christmas Carol, we see only remnants and distant reminders of the inspiration that once filled this house.”

Nelson is aware of the serious undertones of this delightful comedy. He directs his talented ensemble of 12 actors with a firm hand. He shows us how these dark undertones give substance and weight to the humor.

Act 1 deals with the rehearsal of A Christmas Carol. Act 2 shows us the actual performance, which is an extraordinary mix of anything that could go wrong at the worst possible time in front of the inspector who could give them a grant.

There are so many outstanding performances. First-place honors go to Nan Ayers, as the Stage Manager who runs the show and who also plays Martha Cratchet in the show within a show. Matt Farrell plays Wayne, the wannabe actor mistaken for the inspector. The company lets him make terrible changes because they think they will get money from the changes. Next up, Zorah Bloch is played by Maxine Sattizahn, excellent as an insane Lithuanian director. She is always very emotional. Rayan Dridi plays Luther, a very cute little boy too big to play Tiny Tim. He leaves halfway after Act 1 because he has booked a TV show. Shirley Nilsen Hall is fabulous as Dorothy, the British dialect coach who also plays Emily Cratchet. Her exercise with the lemon steals the show. Shirley’s husband well-known local director Norman A. Hall plays Sidney, who plays the ghost of Jacob Marley and Fezziwig. Jeffrey Orth plays Bob Cratchet. He is in love with Zorah due to their one-night stand. Milt Jordan, Jr., plays Walter, the company’s first black actor. He doesn’t know any of his lines. He plays all three ghosts and also steals the show with his dumb show facial expressions. David Shirk plays Kevin the company’s Financial Director. He is a nervous eater and tries to suck up to the inspector as much as possible. Chuck isen is Larry, a middle-aged man whose wife left him. He is the one who plays Scrooge. He buries all his emotions and, instead, acts out by trying to put “social justice” in the show. Tim Clover plays Bart, the guy who plays all the other males roles in the show. Last but not least is Shari Clover who plays Betty Andrews, the inspector. She watches Act 2 from on-stage, and her performance gives us a surprise ending.

All of the characters are well-rounded and wonderfully real – in their roles as far- from-perfect- actors with real personalities. Be sure not to miss Inspecting Carol for a fun-filled holiday treat.

Inspecting Carol will run from November 29 through December 21, 2014. All performances will be held at the NTC Playhouse, 5420 Nave Dr., Novato. Performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For tickets, call 415-883-4498 or go online to

Coming up next at NTC will be The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood from February 6th though March 1st, 2015.