Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Xmas Carol, HANOVER THEATRE"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"A Christmas Carol"
Hanover Theatre in Worcester

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The fifth annual production of "A Christmas Carol" at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA, is adapted and directed by Troy Siebels. He directs a huge cast of 31 performers this year. The gorgeous Hanover Theatre is a 2300 seat renovated opera house and is a hidden gem of a theatre in this city. "A Christmas Carol's underlying themes of charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence are universal though, and are equally relevant to people of all religions and backgrounds. Troy utilizes an adult Tim Cratchit as the narrator of this classic tale of redemption of the miserly curmudgeon. Charles Dickens originally wrote this tale in the winter of 1843, but it still resonates with people to this very day. Scrooge is visited by four spirits to save him from everlasting doom, hoping to change his destiny and save his soul. The ghosts include his late partner, Jacob Marley as well as the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. This marvelous musical is packed with dazzling special effects, timeless music with colorful costumes and scenery. This show follows Scrooge through a series of strange and magical journeys, where he ultimately discovers the true spirit of the holiday season. The combination of Troy's, music director Timothy Evans and choreographer Ilyse Robbins expertise creates a terrific telling of this familiar Christmas story. This show is rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call on a job well done.

Troy keeps the pace of the show moving along smoothly. He combines the comic and dramatic moments together with ease. Troy garners many laughs and some tears of Scrooge's journey to redemption. Timothy plays a Wurlitzer organ for this show, picked some of the most beautiful Christmas carols and obtains stunning four part harmony from this talented cast. Choreographer Ilyse Robbins' dances stop the show with the cast's brilliant execution of them. Prime examples include the opening "Deck the Halls", the Fezziwig scene, the "Greensleeves"waltz for Fred's party and in "Ding Dong Merrily on High". The two outstanding and largest dance numbers are performed to "Pattapan" and "Wassail". The second act opens with a terrific dance by the male chorus to "The Boar's Head Carol". All the dance numbers are breathtaking. The gorgeous authentic looking London sets are by James Kronzer while the plethora of mid-nineteenth century costumes are by Gail Astrid Buckley.

Jeremy Lawrence makes his debut as Scrooge this year. Jeremy is wonderful as Scrooge, the miserly curmudgeon. He excels at the comic moments especially when he yells at the two solicitors,the carolers who sing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and at Fred's party. Jeremy also handles the dramatic scenes including Fan's death, the break up with Belle, the death of Tiny Tim and his transformation scene. The reconciliation scene with Fred is where the pathos comes pouring across the footlights, leaving the audience and myself in tears. Scrooge's exuberance when he wakes up alive on Christmas morning is splendid to behold as he dances with joyous rapture. He jumps on the bed and dances merrily. The audience witnesses how Scrooge learns from the past, present and future on how to become a better man.

The four ghosts do a marvelous job in this show. Andrew Sellon as Marley flies into Scrooge's home, scaring the audience. He wears chains as he flies on top of Scrooge's bed with a smoke filled haze and colorful lighting. The spectacular flying effects are handled with the help of California-based company, ZFX Inc. The Ghost of Christmas Past is portrayed by Tori Heinlein who is only 12 years old. She has a lovely singing voice in her two songs "The Holly and the Ivy" and "In the Bleak Midwinter". She chides Scrooge as he watches his younger self enjoying and loving Christmas when his sister, Fan comes to take him home and at Fezziwig's party when he fell in love with Belle. Her strong line delivery is powerful as she takes Scrooge on his journey of enlightenment. She also played this role last year. Young Scrooge is wonderfully played by Jared Tetreau as is Rhiannon Mansur as little Fan. Tyler Bellmon is fantastic as Young Ebenezer especially in the emotionally charged break up scene. Micah Greene is splendid as Belle, playing her with great warmth and charm. Their break up scene is gut wrenching to observe as she hands him back the engagement ring. I last reviewed Tyler and Micah last year in these roles and they are better than ever this year. The Fezziwigs are well played by Steve Gagliastro and Kim Lamoureaux as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. They lead the party festivities perfectly and they also bring the comic relief needed at this point of the show. I last reviewed Steve in several roles this summer in "How to Succeed in Business" at TBTS. He was the best one in that show.

Peter Adams returns as Christmas Present. He is a dominant presence in the show while he spreads Christmas cheer with his boisterous laugh. Peter teaches Scrooge an important lesson in how to treat his fellow man. The Ghost cajoles Scrooge showing the plight of the Cratchit family and showing him how his nephew is spending Christmas day. Andrew Ross Crowe is marvelous as Fred. He brings a comic touch to this role, infusing him with personality and energy. He is hilarious when he puts more coal in Scrooge's heater and is comical during the party scene. His wife, Millie is wonderfully played by gorgeous brunette, Laura DeGiacomo. They have great chemistry together. Two of their best friends in the show, Topper and Suzannah are played by Kevin Hadfield and Kim Kalunian. They are terrific dancers and vocalists. I first reviewed Kevin in "A Christmas Carol" at NSMT in 2010 and Kim recently obtained her equity card. Andrew Oberstein walks on stilts as the Ghost of Christmas Future and is dressed in a huge robe. He scares the crap out of the audience as he shows Scrooge the fate that will befall him unless he repents his terrible ways. The Ghost accomplishes this by having them observe the old Joe scene, the death of Tiny Tim and Scrooge's own gravestone.

Bill Mootos returns as the narrator. He does a terrific job of telling this classic tale and when the audience discovers he is the grown up Tiny Tim, the tears begin to flow again in the audience as he tugs on your heartstrings. The performers who play the Cratchit family do an excellent job, too. Andrew Hasserlat as Bob Cratchit shows off his acting skills as this loving father and husband.  Some of the funny moments include the opening scene with Scrooge, the first family scene and his last scene with Scrooge. Annie Kerins returns as Mrs. Cratchit, playing this caring, doting mother perfectly. She and Andrew display their terrific vocal and dancing prowess throughout the show, too. I first reviewed Annie in Rocky Horror Show at Foothills Theatre in 2006. Other family members include Joanna Rosen as Martha,Yariana Bergier as Belinda and Connor Macchi as Peter. Tiny Tim is played by 6 year old Elizabeth Brytowski. Comic performers include Lynne Rosenberg as Mrs. Dilber, Andrew Sellon as Old Joe and Meredith Stypinski as the Laundress in the future segment. Lynne is a hoot in the first act when she scares Scrooge before Marley's entrance. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew in this powerful presentation. So for a joyous, exuberant version of this well known show, be sure to catch the Hanover Theatre's version of "A Christmas Carol". P>

"A Christmas Carol" (15 - 23 December)
@ 2 Southbridge Street, WORCESTER MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide