Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Christmas Carol” (Salem Trolley/Griffen Theatre)"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Carl A. Rossi


adapted and directed by Erik Rodenhiser,
from the story by Charles Dickens

Scrooge; Young Scrooge … Erik Rodenhiser
Ghost of Christmas Past; Figure One ... Ursina Amsler
Fezziwig; Old Joe … Art Hennessey
Ghost of Christmas Present; Caroler … Frank Macdonald
Mrs. Cratchit; Mrs. Dilber … Katie Meehan
Belle; Missy … Mandy Mitchell
Bob Cratchit; Ghost of Christmas Future … Jape Payette
Jacob Marley; Figure Two … Bryce Read

The town of Salem, Massachusetts, still exists after Halloween. Weather permitting, now is the time to visit when the tourists have departed, to leisurely stroll through Salem’s streets, day or night, and gaze upon her well-preserved brick, marble and clapboard and to contemplate her somber contributions to history --- but ‘Tis also the Season, and each year Salem offers one of the most unique CHRISTMAS CAROLs, around: Salem Trolley/Griffen Theatre’s period production with the audience boarding a trolley (after sunset, of course) and being driven to three assigned locations in town while Scrooge himself plays the surly emcee. It’s all delightfully corny, doubly so because it works so cleverly from the trolley driver clanging his bell to toll each ghostly hour to the deserted streets lending themselves well to the storybook entrances and exits and the echoing, fiendish laughter. Children will love it, giggling between the puns and the thrills, and adults, once bitten, will also enjoy themselves and get a mini-tour of Salem, to boot.

Now in its nineteenth year, this CHRISTMAS CAROL is robustly acted by adapter/director Erik Rodenhiser as Scrooge and a rotating cast --- the heart of Mr. Dickens’ artistry has always been melodrama, and these actors’ hearts beat warm and strong with it. Mr. Rodenhiser’s Scrooge is a tough old bone, stylized yet believable and deserving to be encased in a proscenium production and, on the evening I attended, Ursina Amsler was a dignified Ghost of Christmas Past with the loveliest of voices, sweet and low. There are several quick costume changes between locations which may involve a car with its motor running --- or a broomstick?

This CHRISTMAS CAROL always sells out quickly so you’d best reserve your bench on the trolley, now. Still, there is Salem herself, always a production in her own right, regardless of the season.

"A Christmas Carol” (Salem Trolley/Griffen Theatre)" (25 November - 23 December)
7 Lynde Street, SALEM, MA
1 (978) 744-5469 (Salem Trolley)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide