From sassy to sweet
Bag&Baggage Productions retires holiday farce, looks to love and romance in ‘Parfumerie.’
For the last three years, audiences came in droves to see Bag&Baggage’s epic Christmas trilogy that followed the hilarious, over-the-top antics of a radio crew during the holidays.With the 1940s radio saga coming to a close last year, Founding Artistic Director Scott Palmer and company are ready to tell a different tale geared around the most wonderful time of the year.
“Parfumerie,” a Hungarian play that inspired a trio of films and a massive Broadway smash hit, is being put on by Hillsboro’s resident professional theater company from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23 at the Venetian Theatre, 253 E. Main Street.
The production was adapted by EP Dowdall from the Hungarian play “Illatzertar” by Miklos Laszlo. Set in 1937 Budapest, Hungary during Christmastime, the play centers around two bickering employees at an upscale boutique who’ve been building an anonymous romantic relationship through letters to one another for two years.
The production is quite the departure from the last three years — the KBNB radio saga was full of slapstick humor, and then some.
“Parfumerie is a bit of a change for us,” Palmer said. “For the past three years, we have been presenting over-the-top, adult-themed holiday farces, but this year our holiday show is sweet, romantic and filled with holiday heart. Maybe most surprising? It’s appropriate for the whole family.”
The comedy is extremely popular in Europe, but is seldom seen in the United States; Bag&Baggage always strives to bring fresh and intriguing entertainment to audiences.
The play’s charming plot has been adapted to film several times, including “The Shop Around the Corner,” “In the Good Old Summertime,” and “You’ve Got Mail,” as well as “She Loves Me,” the Broadway musical.
Although not a brand name holiday standard, “Parfumerie” has been growing in popularity throughout the country as an alternative to the usual list of familiar Christmas titles.
“The first performance of the show in Beverly Hills was in 2013, and starred acting luminaries like Richard Schiff (Tony Ziegler from “The West Wing”) and Deborah Ann Woll (star of “True Blood” and “Marvel’s Daredevil” television shows). It very quickly developed a reputation as an instant holiday classic, and has been produced throughout North America ever since, according to Palmer.
The plot takes place just days before Christmas. George Horvath’s boss fires him after mistakenly suspecting him to be the lover of his unfaithful wife. Meanwhile, George has his own love life goes awry when he discovers that the stranger he has fallen in love with through a secret correspondence is none other than Amalia Balash, a co-worker with whom he constantly feuds. For the employees of the Parfumerie, only the truth can lead to a happy resolution in the Budapest snow on Christmas Eve.“There is a kind of nostalgia, a hearkening back to a simpler time in life, and in the style of theater represented in this show,” said Cassie Greer, B&B resident actor and co-director of the production. “It’s funny and sweet, but also about love and forgiveness; it really is a perfect show for the holiday season.”
The show stars Bag&Baggage resident actor Arianne Jacques as Amalia Balash, and associate artist Joey Copsey as George Horvath.
Other cast members include familiar faces to B&B audiences, including Andrew Beck, David Heath, Eric St. Cyr, Stephanie Leppert and Patrick Spike. The play’s costumes were designed by resident designer Melissa Heller; scenic designs by director of production and design Megan Wilkerson, and lighting design by Jim Ricks-White.
Audiences have about a month to see Bag&Baggage’s Christmas offering this year.
Thursday, Dec. 1 is a “Pay What You Will” show (show up to the box office before the show and make a donation in any amount).
Nov. 25 to Dec. 23Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.Tickets are $27-$32 for adults; $22-$27 for students and seniors, available at bagnbaggage.org or at the box office before the show.The Venetian Theatre, 253 E. Main St., Hillsboro.