Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Christmas Carol"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Carl A. Rossi


"A CHRISTMAS CAROL"

by Charles Dickens

adapted by Oskar Eustis
original music and lyrics by Amanda Dehnert
directed by Kevin Moriarty
choreography by Luis Perez
musical direction and orchestration by James Vermuelen

Ebenezer Scrooge … Stacy Keach
Bob Cratchit … Jon Blackstone
Fred, Nephew to Scrooge … Kent French
Solicitors … Andrew Giordano; Keith Jochim
The Ghost of Jacob Marley … Timothy Crowe
The Ghost of Christmas Past … Trish Aponte
Boy Scrooge … David Mokriski/Brendan DeWolfe
Little Fan … Jessica Bonner/Alexandra Bilbo
Schoolmaster … Jon Blackstone
Mr. Fezziwig … Keith Jochim
Mrs. Fezziwig … Alisa D. Miles
Young Marley … Julian Reyes
Young Scrooge … Andrew Giordano
Emma … Stephanie Ballard
Emma’s Husband … Miguel Cervantes
The Ghost of Christ Present … Keith Jochim
Mrs. Cratchit … Grace Napier
Peter … David Mokriski/Brendan DeWolfe
Martha … Jacqueline Laviolette/Jessica Tar
Belinda … Gina Meile/Jaclyn Sabogal
Tiny Tim … Crystal Lake Evans/Andrew Cavanaugh
May … Stephan Ballard
Topper … Miguel Cervantes
Sister … Emmee McInnis
Guests at Fred’s Party … Trish Aponte; Andrew Giordano; Julian Reyes
Ignorance … Jessica Bonner/Alexandra Bilbo
Poverty … Gina Meile/Jaclyn Sabogal
The Ghost of Christmas Future … Crystal Lake Evans/Andrew Cavanaugh
Businessman … Jon Blackstone; Timothy Crowe; Andrew Giordano
Old Joe … Keith Jochim
Charwoman … Trish Aponte
Undertaker’s Man … Kent French
Mrs. Dilber … Grace Napier
Debtor’s Wife … Alisa D. Miles
Debtor … Julian Reyes
Turkey Boy … Sam Wartenberg/Henry VanDuesen

Factory Workers … Trish Aponte; Stephanie Ballard; Jessica Bonner/Alexandra Bilbo; Miguel Cervantes; Kent French’ Keith Jochim; Andrew Giordano; Jacqueline Laviolette/Jessica Tar; Emmee McInnis; Gina Meile/Jaclyn Sabogal; David Mokriski/Brendan DeWolfe; Alisa D. Miles; Grace Napier; Julian Reyes; Samuel Wartenberg/Harry VanDusen

Musicians:

Conductor/Keyboard … Karl Shymanovitz
Violin … Angela Shyr
Reeds … Brent Beech
Bass … Thomas Brinkley

There are CHRISTMAS CAROLS and there are CHRISTMAS CAROLS and I have attended two of them, this season: the Stoneham Theatre production is a thick, warm slice of homemade gingerbread; the Trinity Rep production, housed in Boston’s truly Majestic Theatre, is several pounds of store-bought ribbon candy --- shiny, slick and brittle. On the night I attended the latter, the Majestic audience gobbled it up and gave a thunderous ovation at curtain call. I prefer gingerbread, myself.

Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley’s Ghost, the Cratchit Family and the three Christmas Spirits is so familiar that some theatre companies feel they must stir in new ingredients to liven things up; here, Oskar Eustis and Amanda Dehnert have set their CHRISTMAS CAROL version next door to SWEENEY TODD: though still mid-Victorian in period, Scrooge is now the master of a vast, grim factory where his workers, dressed in METROPOLIS grays, toil amidst the gears and steam and confront the audience with Sondheim-esque Sprechstimme (at show’s end, the reformed Scrooge gives them all raises). The other major change is the Ghost of Christmas Future now becomes the dead Tiny Tim (at show’s end, the solemn lad stops pointing and returns to life in the present, still solemn). Were I to go down a check list, the Stoneham production would come out on top in terms of performance, style, music and texture; the one ace up Trinity Rep’s sleeve is that Marley’s ghost and two of the Spirits have been wired to fly --- Marley’s cameo is particularly startling --- but audiences have grown so accustomed to stage craft and special effects being the lifeblood of much of today’s theatre that they may not notice or care that this CHRISTMAS CAROL, like another storybook character, lacks a heart.

A few of the performances sparkle up there in the cold: Keith Jochim’s Mr. Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Present have joyously stepped out of the George Cruikshank illustrations; Andrew Giordano is a convincing Regency dandy as Young Scrooge, especially when he dances; and Kent French (Fred) inches up a few more notches to leading man status. Stacy Keach is not one of Nature’s Scrooges --- his miser is a lusty old badger, instead --- but he would make a most excellent Fagin in OLIVER! should he ever consider it; come to think of it, so would Jon Blackstone (Bob Cratchit), an impression reinforced by his “my dears” and his engaging playfulness with his stage children.

"A Christmas Carol" (9-27 December)
TRINITY REPERTORY COMPANY
Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 482-8616

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