A Christmas Carol
What better way to ring in this festive season than with a live production of "A Christmas Carol"? Couple the timeless Dickens' tale with acclaimed repertory theatre company A Noise Within's beautiful interpretation and you have the perfect holiday pair. Playing through Dec. 23, the show will be enjoyed by even the nastiest of Scrooges.
Newly adapted by Geoff Elliott, and co-directed alongside his wife Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, he remains true to the integrity of the original work. And with the help of composer Ego Plum's new musical score, both men succeed in creating a fresh and whimsical take on the timeless novel about a pinchpenny who is visited by three apparitions on Christmas Eve and made to see the error of his ways.
Elliott's genius does not end there, the creator and co-director also takes on the lead role, playing Ebenezer Scrooge with vigor and passion that is a brilliant embodiment of the old miser. His theatrical grandeur radiates off the stage and captivates the audience who is taken on a roller coaster ride through the depths of Scrooge's ultimate despair and regret, and then hoisted up by his glee and ecstatic self-redemption. His entire Christmas journey across the past, present and future is truly magical to watch.
The entire cast is dazzling, working together to bring to life a story for all ages. Deborah Strang is charming as the Ghost of Christmas Past, capturing the playfulness of childhood her character symbolizes. Alan Blumenfeld is a fine Ghost of Christmas Present, exuding a larger than life presence on stage as he towers over Scrooge covered in holiday treats and adornments.
The Ghost of Christmas Future, played by Kevin Rico Angulo, (and one of my favorite characters) projects just the right amount of terror, managing to bring Scrooge trembling to his knees by a mere pointing of his ghostly limbs.
The Cratchit Family is represented splendidly by the talented Stephen Rockwell and Jill Hill, as the loving parents; and Diana Gonzalez-Morett, Brendan Haley, Georgia Miller, Marie Sullivan and Jack Elliott rounding out the children. Dámaso J. Rodriguez is perfectly charming as the beloved Tiny Tim, melting the hearts of the audience while delivering his famous line to close out the performance.
Robertson Dean narrates the show, adding a pleasant element of story telling to an already superb production. He lulls the audience with his solid voice, appearing at just the right moments offering up tidbits of narrative.
The costumes are lovely, even enchanting at times. Angela Balogh Calin succeeds in capturing the era with grace and beauty. With anything from the earthy, lower class attire worn by the Cratchits, to the elaborate Victorian gowns worn by the ladies of the elite, we are treated with Victorian garb that looks as though it were pulled from the pages of the novel itself.
Most impressive is a beautiful, dark, silk dress that leads into the scene of Tiny Tim's death. Carried by the Cratchit family and spread across the entire stage, you cannot help but fall under the shroud of their mourning. It is moments like these which touch our hearts and remind us what a unique and special art form live theater can truly be.
The stage, scenic design and prop work are enthralling, capturing anything from the cold offices of Scrooge and Marlowe, to various dream-like moments of Scrooge's past. The team, made up of Jeanine A. Ringer, Ken Booth, Jenny Smith, JR Bruce and Lindy Dusenbery, are true masters of their craft, painting a perfect picture of a Victorian England that is both gothic and gorgeous.
Running a short 90 minutes without an intermission, "A Christmas Carol" is made to be enjoyed by the entire family. There were plenty of children in the audience who seemed awed by what was going on around them. The cast makes it a point to utilize all aspects of the theatre space, the stage and aisles are always busy, giving curious little eyes plenty to look at.
Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" has been a part of my family holiday tradition for many years. Let A Noise Within's adaptation be the start of yours, I promise you there is nothing "Bah" or "Humbug" about it.
"A Christmas Carol" runs through Dec. 23 at A Noise Within theatre, 3352 E. Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena. For info or tickets, call 626-356-3100 or visit www.anoisewithin.org