Theatre Mirror Review>"A Christmas Carol"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Anniocone

"A Christmas Carol"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Hanover Theatre's holiday show this year is 8th annual winter presentation of "A Christmas Carol" adapted and by Troy Siebels. The Hanover Theatre is breathtakingly gorgeous and is a jewel hidden away in the city of Worcester that needs to be discovered by one and by all. Troy has a cast of 30 this year. He also announced that Hanover Theatre would be opening a Performing Arts School soon. The underlying themes of charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence found in "A Christmas Carol" are universal and are relevant to people of all religions and backgrounds. Troy utilizes a grown up, Tim Cratchit as the narrator of this classic tale of the redemption of the miserly curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. Originally written by Charles Dickens in the winter of 1843, the show still resonates with people one hundred and seventy two years later. Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Marley, Christmas Past, Present and Future, hoping to change his destiny and save his soul. This splendid musical adaptation is chock full of dazzling special effects, timeless music, colorful sets and gorgeous costumes. This show follows Scrooge on his many strange and magical journeys, where he ultimately discovers the true spirit of the holiday season at last. The combination of Troy's, music director Timothy Evans and choreographer Ilyse Robbins hard work creates a magnificent telling of this classic tale. A spontaneous standing ovation is their reward on a job extremely well done. Bravo!

Troy obtains laughter and some tears on Scrooge's journey to redemption by blending the dramatic and comic moments together marvelously. He keeps the action of the show flowing smoothly from one scene to the next one and ends the show with the cast singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as the snow falls on the performers and the audience. Timothy plays a Wurlitzer organ and picked the prettiest Christmas carols to use in this show. The dances by Ilyse stop the show with the expert execution of this talented cast, especially in the opening "Deck the Halls", the Fezziwig scene, Fred's party waltz and in "Ding Dong Merrily on High." The two other dance numbers include "Pattapan" and "Wassail" as well as the splendid opening of Act 2 dance by the men's chorus in "The Boar's Head Carol'' which knocks your socks off. The incredible London sets are by James Krozner while the fantastic, gorgeous authentic costumes are by Gail Astrid Buckley.

Jeremy Lawrence returns in triumph for his fourth year as Scrooge. He plays the miserly, curmudgeon marvelously and commands the stage in this role. Jeremy excels in his comic scenes especially in "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" when he yells at the caroler as well as when he yells at the two solicitors. He is also funny when he boxes his robe but it is in his dramatic scenes including Fan's death, the break-up with Belle, the witnessing the dead body of himself under a blanket, the death of Tiny Tim and in his transformation that the pathos flows out to the audience, leaving them as well as me in tears. His exuberance when he awakens on Christmas morning is stunning to behold as he dances with joyous rapture. The audience learns how Scrooge has become a better man by learning from the past, present and the future. Bravo! Young Scrooge is wonderfully played by 12 year old Antonio Weissinger as is eleven year old Lily Riley as little Fan. Tyler Belmon returns in triumph as Young Ebenezer, giving the role the strength it needs in the emotion packed break up scene with Belle. Belle is played with great warmth by Lea Nardi. Their break up scene is gut wrenching to witness as she hands him back the engagement ring. The Fezziwigs are excellently played by Steve Gagliastro and Shonna Cirone. They are both expert comic performers and they bring a great deal of hilarity to the proceedings. Their song and dance is "Wassail" with Scrooge and Christmas Past joining in the dancing. Troy's staging at the end of Act 1 is fabulous. The tableau with a spot on the Fezziwigs, one on Fan and Young Scrooge as well as on Belle and Young Ebenezer, one on the Narrator with Scrooge back in bed is the perfect finish to the first half of the show.

Bryan T. Donovan plays Christmas Present who spreads Christmas cheer and teaches Scrooge an important lesson on how to treat his fellow man. The Ghost cajoles him as he shows him the plight of the Cratchit family and how his nephew, Fred is spending Christmas day. Fred is wonderfully played by Andrew Crowe who brings a great deal of levity and energy to the role. He is especially funny when he puts more coal in Scrooge's heater and when he kisses him on the head when he leaves. His wife, Millie is excellently played by the gorgeous brunette, Laura DeGiacomo. They have some clever banter during the party scene. The Ghost of the Future walks on stilts and wears a huge black robe. He scares not only Scrooge but the entire audience when he shows him the Old Joe scene, the death of Tiny Tim ("Little Tiny Child" sung by powerhouse soprano Laura DeGiacomo brings tears to your eyes at her tender rendition) and Scrooge's gravestone. He must reform or face this horrible fate.

Bill Mootos returns for his seventh time as the Narrator. He is remarkable as the grown up Tim who weaves the story together and tugs at your heartstrings when he reveals he is the grown up Tim Cratchit. Bill is perfect in this part, commanding the stage at all times. The Cratchit family is marvelous, too. Matty Rickard as Bob handles the comic moments trying to put a piece of coal in the heater in the first scene and being shocked by Scrooge's transformation in the last scene. He does a nice job in the dramatic Tiny Tim death scene. Annie Kerins shines as Mrs. Cratchit. She and Matty display their topnotch singing voices and dancing ability. Annie is a hoot when she won't toast Scrooge and chokes you up at Tim's death scene. This is her seventh year in this show. Other family members are Lauren Walsh as Martha, Abigail Harris as Belinda and Jack Cormier as Peter. Jack is a hoot when he begs his father to carve the goose as well as when he describes how delectable it looks. Blond haired nine year old Cameron Levesque is cute as a button as Tiny Tim and delivers a heartfelt performance as this iconic character. Other comic performers include Stephanie Carlson as Mrs. Dilber, who delivers Scrooge's gruel and sell his bed clothes to Old Joe, Marc Gellar does double duty as Old Joe and Dawn Tucker as the laundress. A word of praise to the whole cast and crew on a job extremely well done. Run do not walk to the box office before they run out of tickets. You will definitely get into the Christmas spirit after you see Hanover Theatre's marvelous rendition of this holiday classic. Tell them Tony sent you. I look forward to seeing "Ragtime" in January.

"A Christmas Carol" (18 - 27 December)
@ 2 Southbridge Street, WORCESTER MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide