Entertainment » Theatre

Review: 'A Christmas Carol' is Heartfelt, Passionate

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Dec 30, 2020
A scene from the Trinity Repertory Country's "A Christmas Carol"
A scene from the Trinity Repertory Country's "A Christmas Carol"  (Source:Trinity Rep)

This year, Providence's Trinity Repertory Company has taken an alternate approach to their perennial holiday production of "A Christmas Carol" due to the ongoing pandemic.

Shot on film and telling the familiar story while keeping many of the actors separated, writer/director Curt Columbus has managed to deliver a heartfelt and passionate adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale.

Company member Joe Wilson, Jr. plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a misanthropic tycoon who has shut out the world and become a bitter reclusive man in the process. After dismissing the Christmas holiday, Scrooge is visited by his long dead business partner Jacob Marley (Stephen Thorne).

Marley's first appearance on a downtown Providence street is eerie. He is a phantom showing himself in broad daylight.

Scrooge then walks through the rotunda of Trinity Rep. and onto a stage featuring the beautiful library backdrop from last spring's "A Tale of Two Cities."

Marley's haunting voice booms from a bank of television screens, warning him of the cruel fate which awaits unless he changes his ways.

There are other visitors: namely the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Rebecca Gibel) and Present (Daniel Duque-Estrada).

We also check in with Scrooge's long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit (Taavon Gamble), Bob's husband Sam (Adam Crowe), their son Tiny Tim (Evelyn Marote) and Nephew Fred (Rodney Witherspoon II).

Wilson is a terrific actor who brings tremendous vulnerability to Scrooge. His cruelty comes from a place of deep psychic anguish. This is a man who has lost touch with humanity and is given a gift from his ghostly guests. We want him to recover his soul and Wilson's joy is infectious as Scrooge is transformed.

In addition to the superb ensemble work by Thorne, Gibel, Gamble, and Rachael Warren, the technical aspects of the show are also first-rate.

Alberto Genao's photography is atmospheric, especially as his camera soars among the city's landmarks.

Composer Michael Rice and Costume Designer Amanda Downing Carney, along with Sound Designer Peter Sasha Hurowitz, are responsible for a great looking and sounding show.

The greatest lesson learned from "A Christmas Carol" is that truly great stories can be told any number of ways. As long as you have a first-rate acting company and skilled artisans collaborating under unusual circumstances, magic can happen.

In a poignant touch, the production ends with a dedication to the lives lost due to coronavirus as well as the frontline health care workers who are risking their own lives to help others. What better way to mark the holidays than an acknowledgement of the better qualities of human
nature.

"A Christmas Carol" began streaming on December 17 and will be available for unlimited viewing until January 10, 2021 at 11:59 pm. The hour-long new media production can be streamed by registered viewers at any time during the streaming period. Registration and additional information, including free bonus content and answers to frequently asked questions, can be found at trinityrep.com/carol.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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