Theatre Mirror Reviews -"A Christmas Carol --- HANOVER"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"A Christmas Carol

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Hanover Theatre's current show is "A Christmas Carol", adapted and directed by Troy Siebels in the fourth annual production. He directs a huge cast of 32 this year. Troy says " 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." He uses an adult Tim Cratchit as the narrator of this classic tale of redemption of a miserly curmudgeon. Charles Dickens originally wrote his tale in the winter of 1843, but it still resonates with people to this very day. Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future, hoping to change his destiny and save his soul. This terrific musical is packed with dazzling special effects, timeless music and colorful costumes and scenery. The 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 hard work creates a fantastic telling of this familiar Christmas tale. The show is rewarded with a standing ovation at the curtain call.

Troy keeps the action of the show in constant motion. He mixes the comic and dramatic moments together splendidly. Troy obtains many laughs and some tears on the journey of Scrooge's tale. Timothy plays a Wurlitzer organ and picked out the loveliest Christmas carols to use in this show. The four part harmony in them is stunning. Choreographer Ilyse Robbins dance numbers stop the show with the cast's expert execution of them especially the opening "Deck the Halls", Fezziwig scene, the waltz for Fred's party and in "Ding Dong Merrily on High". Two huge dance numbers are performed in "Pattapan" and "Wassail''. The second act opens with a terrific dance by the male chorus to "The Boar's Head Carol".The gorgeous authentic looking London sets are by James Kronzer while the multitude of period costumes are by Gail Astrid Buckley. Dale Place is excellent as Scrooge, the miserly curmudgeon. He commands the stage as Ebenezer Scrooge. Dale excels at the comic moments especially when he yells at the two solicitors, the carolers who sing "God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen" but it is in Fan's death, the break up with Belle, the death of Tiny Tim and his transformation scene that the pathos comes pouring across the footlights, leaving the audience in tears. His exuberance when he awakens alive on Christmas morning is wonderful to behold as he dances with joyous rapture twirling his night cap and the belt of his robe. The audience observes how he learns from the past, present and future how to become a better man. Bravo!

John Davin as Jacob Marley flies in scaring the crap out of one and all. He has chains on as he flies onto the 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 three ghosts are marvelously played in this version. Christmas Past is portrayed by a young girl, Tori Heinlein who is only 11 years old. She has a gorgeous singing voice in her two numbers "The Holly and the Ivy" and "In the Bleak Midwinter". She chides Scrooge as he watches his younger self loving Christmas as a boy with his sister, Fan when she came to take him home and at Fezziwig's party when he fell in love with Belle. Tori's line delivery is very strong as she takes Scrooge on his journey of enlightenment. Young Scrooge is wonderfully played by sixth grader Jared Tetreau as is Samantha Keville as little Fan. Tyler Bellmon is excellent as Young Ebenezer especially in the emotion packed break up scene. Micah Tougas plays Belle with great warmth and charm. Their break up is gut wrenching to witness as she hands him back the engagement ring. I last reviewed Micah as Olive in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" in 2009 and as Luisa in "The Fantasticks" in 2006.The Fezziwigs are well played by Steve Gagliastro and Ilyse Robbins. They bring a great deal of levity to the proceedings. Peter Adams commands the stage as Christmas Present while spreading Christmas cheer. He also teaches Scrooge an important lesson in how to treat his fellow man. The Ghost cajoles Scrooge as he shows him the plight of the Cratchit family and how his nephew is spending Christmas day. Fred is excellently played by Ross MacDonald who brings a lot of energy and comedy to the role. He is especially funny when he puts more coal in Scrooge's heater and when he kisses Scrooge on the head when leaving. One of the best Fred's I've seen. His wife, Millie is wonderfully played by gorgeous brunette, Laura DeGiacomo. Eric McGowan walks on stilts as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and is dressed in a huge robe. He scares the crap out of the audience as he shows Scrooge the fate that awaits him unless he reforms his ways by looking at the Old Joe scene, the death of Tiny Tim and Scrooge's own gravestone.

Bill Mootos as the narrator does a marvelous job weaving the story together and chokes the audience up at the revelation of who is really is.The Cratchit family is terrific in this show. Sean Patrick Hopkins shines as Bob Cratchit. He handles some comic moments with Scrooge at the beginning of the show as well as in the last scene and in the first family scene. Sean also plays the dramatic segments beautifully especially Tiny Tim's death. Annie Kerins plays his wife, where she displays her dramatic acting talent. She and Sean show off their marvelous singing voices and dancing prowess, too. I last reviewed Sean in "Forever Plaid" at NSMT in 2007. Other family members include Joanna Rosen as Martha, Emily Greenslit as Belinda and Thomas Petrocelli as Peter. Tiny Tim is played by 7 year old Peter Stamoulis who tugs at your heartstrings with his acting talent at a young age.Comic performers include Lynne Rosenberg as Mrs. Dilber, John Davin as Old Joe and Meredith Stypinski as the Charwoman in the future segment. Kudos to the entire cast and crew on a job very well done. So for a fantastic version of this well known tale, be sure to catch the Hanover Theatre's version of "A Christmas Carol". The theatre is breathtakingly gorgeous and is a jewel hidden away in Worcester that needs to be discovered by one and all.

"A Christmas Carol"l (16 - 23 December)
@ 2 Southbridge Street, WORCESTER MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide