Theatre Mirror Reviews "A Christmas Carol"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"A Christmas Carol"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Trinity Repertory Company ushers in the holiday season with their 38th annual presentation of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens adapted by Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming. The shows underlying themes of charity, forbearance and benevolence are universal, and are equally relevant to people of all religions and backgrounds. This familiar tale is about the curmudgeonly miser, Ebenzer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghosts of Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come who hope to change his destiny and save his soul. The audience travels with him as he sets off on a strange and magical journey to ultimately discover the true meaning of Christmas. Director Curt Columbus creates a fabulous telling of this well known Christmas tale with keen and perceptive insight to these Dickens characters while Michael Rice as the musical director, plays lead keyboards and conducts a four piece orchestra. , Michael and the cast are rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call.

Curt keeps the show in constant motion, blending the comic and dramatic moments together marvelously. Curt obtains stunning performances from his hard working cast which wins them many laughs and some tears shed on their journey. Leading this huge cast this year is Stephen Berenson as Scrooge. He runs the gamut of emotions as this miserly curmudgeon. Stephen's comic moments include yelling at his nephew, Fred, his employee, Bob Cratchit, the almsmen and the carolers as they are singing to shut up. However it is in Fan's death, the break up with Belle and the death of Tiny Tim that the pathos pours out to the audience. His transformation scene is very comical, changing from black and white costume into color and the set becomes more colorful with snow falling all around. The audience learns how Scrooge has become a better man by learning from the past, present and future on how to gain redemption at last.

The first ghost to scare the audience is Brian McEleney as Jacob Marley. There is a flashback to when Marley was alive with the cast singing "Scrooge and Marley" but when he enters as the ghost it shocks the crap out of you as he magically comes out of Scrooges bed. He frightens not only Scrooge but every member of the audience with his emphatic delivery of Marley's lines. The three ghosts are excellently played, too. Christmas Past is played by Whitney White. She flies over Scrooge's head while chastising him as he watches himself enjoying Christmas as a young boy with his sister, Fan and at Fezziwig's party when he fell in love with Belle. Gustavo Londono does a terrific job as Boy Scrooge as does Delaney Wilson as Fan. Belle is played with a great deal of warmth and charm by Adrian Blount. Young Man Scrooge is excellently played by Joshua Lomeli who has a splendid singing voice. Their scenes crackle with high intensity and leave you in tears as they break up. Fezziwig is magnificently played by Fred Sullivan Jr. with Janice Duclos as Mrs. Fezziwig. They bring much needed levity to the proceedings. Fred and Janice's song and dance is excellently executed.

Phyllis Kaye is splendid as Christmas Present and commands the stage in this role. She enters through an actual Christmas gift on the stage. This spirit not only spreads Christmas cheer but also teaches Scrooge how to treat his fellow man. She cajoles Scrooge as they observe the plight of the Cratchit Family as well as how his nephew, Fred is spending Christmas plus a very poignant look at the poor people of London. Fred is excellently played by Kyle Vincent Terry who brings a great deal of energy to the role and also possesses a bass voice. Whitney White plays his beautiful wife and has an awesome soprano voice that soars off the charts. Dennis Kozee does some magic tricks before the show and then becomes Topper in this sequence. He has a phenomenal tenor voice. Christmas Future is played by Calista Heart Aguinado who scares the crap out of one and all in the crowd. She shows Scrooge's fate while displaying the Old Joe, Tiny Tim death and the gravestone scene. Calista is dressed as a statue on Scrooge's gravestone with a skeleton face.

Stephen Thorne who was magnificent as Brutus in "Julius Caesar", plays the likable Bob Cratchit perfectly, too. He has some comic moments at the start of the show including spilling coal on the floor, brushing snow off the dinner table in the last scene as well as trying to sneak past Scrooge when he's late for work.. The first and last family scene are funny, too. He also is hysterical as the school master in the past sequence. Stephen also handles the dramatic moments especially the death of Tiny Tim. Rachael Warren as Mrs. Cratchit displays her acting prowess and lovely singing voice by playing a spunkier wife and is very funny as one of the solicitor's . The talented Cratchit children are Delaney as Martha, Calista as Belinda, Bobby Miller III as Peter. Tiny Tim is marvelously played by Amaryllis Miller who does a great job as this iconic character. Other comic characters include the laundress Mrs. Dilber who serves Scrooge his gruel and tea, Fred Sullivan Jr. as Old Joe, who brandishes a knife on the people bringing him their wares and Joshua Lomel as the Undertaker's man and Phyllis Kaye as the Char woman. So for a seasonal treat that the audience never tires of during this festive time of year, be sure to catch "A Christmas Carol" at Trinity Repertory Company before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"A Christmas Carol" (7 November - 31 December)
@ 201 Washington Street, PROVIDENCE RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide