Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Christmas Carol"

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note: entire contents copyright 1996 by Larry Stark


"A Christmas Carol"

Adapted from the story by Charles Dickens
by Jon Kimbell, D. Zoffoli & David James
Directed & Choreographed by Greg Ganakis
Musical Direction and Arrangements by Alby Potts

Set Design by Howard Jones
Lighting Design by Kendall Smith
Costume Design by Nancy Leary
Sound Design by Richard Lavin
Production Stage Manager David Dreyfoos

SCROOGE.......................David Coffee
NARRATOR....................Marcus Neville
JACOB MARLEY..................Patrick Boll
BOB CRATCHIT.....................Ken Moore
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT..Geroge Dvorsky
GENTLEMAN ONE
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST.....Nancy Johnston
MRS. CRATCHIT
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE.......Kevin Kern
YOUNG SCROOGE
BELLE.....................Kristen Novalany
MEG.........................Marcie Barrett
FEZZIWIG.................Paul J. Gallagher
GENTLEMAN TWO
MRS. FEZZIWIG...............Cheryl McMahon
MRS. DILBERT
MRS. TUGBY
JOE.........................Peter A. Carey
PEARLIE........................Kathy Meyer
PEARLIE...............................Tabb
PETER CRATCHIT...............Matthew Bisch
FAN.........................Jessica Coffin
MARTHA CRATCHIT........Stephanie Kacoyanis
BELINDA CRATCHIT....Lindsay Arienne Weiner
TINY TIM...............Matthew Soursourian
IGNORANCE....................Devin Jeffers
WANT....................Stephanie Schapero
TURKEY BOY..................Brendan Curran
TURKEY BOY.............Christopher Thomann
CAROLLERS......................Scott Jedry
BELLRINGERS...........Nancy Katz Bronstein
PARTY................Shael Michaels Norris
GUESTS...................Luis A. Rodriguez



The North Shore Music Theatre is actually the local equivalent of the Royal Shakespeare Company. On their huge circular stage in the suburbs (Not Stratford but Beverly) they can afford to pay twenty-seven lavishly costumed professionals to play everything from starring roles to scene-swelling extras because of budgets heavily subsidized --- not by the Crown or the Arts Council, but American businesses. And, like the RSC, their specialty is our national classics --- not Shakespeare, but the spectacle, the glitter and the noise, the bombast and magic and full-throated exhuberent energy that is the American musical.

Their specialty is spectacle, and that is the strength of their traditional holiday adaptation of "A Christmas Carol". The Ghost of Christmas Present strides onstage an eight-foot giant with holly and lighted candles in his hair singing The Boar's Head Carol, and wields a huge scepter shooting sparks like a roman candle. Gleaming chains and luminescent face-paint and crashing lightning-spitting thunder turn the ghost of Jacob Marley into fearful spectre enough to rival anything out of "Beetlejuice" except that it's live onstage. The Ghost of Christmas Future reveals a tombstone upon which the letters EBENEEZER SCROOGE etch themselves into the marble before your very eyes in living flames!

The two hours' traffic of their stage is crammed with detail, including bits of traditional music from the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance to Greensleaves, and much more of Dickens' tale than survives in most retellings. David Coffee, repeating the role for the fifth time, brings a rock-solid conviction to both the coldly snappish curmudgeon, the unwillingly thoughtful pupil of his ghosts, and the suddenly, even giddily thawed ex-miser. In the snowy Christmas-morning London streets, after his long ordeal, his first, hesitant, pleasant words to a passing stranger make a heart-melting theatrical moment --- his first truly merry Christmas in many a frozen year.

Perhaps the most surprising detail of this production is a pair of tumbling, cartwheeling acrobats (Kathy Meyer and Tabb) who whirl through nearly every scene, more than half the time in mid- air, adding bounce and vigor to the proceedings. Their black-clad (and thus "invisible") sprites bedevil Scrooge and his housekeeper, stretch poor Marley's chains the width of the stage, and whirl the platform on which the Ghost of Christmas Past stands, radiantly white and still, till she spins and dances as efortlessly as an ice-skater.

This show is itself a tradition, with eleven cast members back playing roles second, third, fifth or sixth times. The record is George Dvorsky, playing Christmas Present for a seventh year. From the gas-lamps lit to start the show to Tiny Tim's forlorn and lonely crutch, to the narrator's revelation that he is indeed Tim Cratchit, alive and with children of his own, this beloved old chestnut is warmed by sentiment rather than sentimentality, making the familiar new again.

God bless them, every one.

Love,
===Anon.


at

THE NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road
BEVERLY
till 22 December
1(508)922-8500



THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |