Credit versatile James Wheatley for many aspects of this lighthearted musical comedy. He wrote the script, music and lyrics; choreographed the dance numbers; and directed the play. He’s also in the cast—as an angel dressed in white, commenting wryly on the foibles of mortals.Though S.I.T.B. (Stable in the Back)
is nominally set in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth, the play has the texture of a modern piece. There are abundant contemporary references. Joseph (Damien Sharpe) is clueless and frazzled and lacks a reservation or credit card. He approaches the Do Drop Inn, which is run by the money-grasping Sam (J. Winslow Irving, who shows good timing in his delivery of jokes). Sam’s world-weary wife, Betty (Rina Dion), spawns several jokes about which spouse controls the purse. Mary and the baby are mentioned but never seen.
Guests at the inn include an opportunistic floozy named Beebe (Pelenta Forrest Klagenberg) who’s shacked up with sugar daddy Hezeckiah Washington (Greg Jones). Beebe also makes a pass at Joseph, who resists with help from above. A wise man (Larry Lew, in a funny turn as an Asian emperor) wanders in. Tracy Butler plays a secondary angel, trading remarks with Wheatley.
Wheatley’s well-crafted songs are the best aspect of the show. The styles range from calypso and gospel to blues and Broadway. Alas, the recorded instrumental tracks sound tinny. Singing is fair to good, but, fortunately, no one needs to push his or her voice in this 50-seat space. As musicals go, this one’s a chamber piece. It generates a pleasant glow rather than overwhelming you.