|Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
posted by Ralph Malachowski on Dec 19, 2017 10:30am | comments
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 after he saw the abysmal working conditions in a mine in England. His savage commentary on debtors’ prisons, the homeless and starving, and even the working poor, who lived, barely, from paycheck to paycheck, sounds eerily familiar to us who now live in a New Gilded Age. The McCarter Theatre Center brings us a splendid production of A Christmas Carol which can be seen until December 31st at the Matthews Theatre.
This production of A Christmas Carol has so many outstanding talents who helped to make theatre magic come alive. Set design by Daniel Ostling was outstanding. Costumes by Linda Cho, were rich and sumptuous or spare and dreary as called for. Lighting by Lap Chi Chu was never intrusive, and Special Effects by Jeremy Chernick were often breathtaking. Who expected Jacob Marley to fly, or to have his spectral hands reach down and knock off Scrooge’s hat? Scrooge’s doorknocker speaking with Marley’s face was plain spooky. All of these honorable mentions just begin to scratch the surface of design team magic. David Thompson adapted the Dickens story, and Adam Immerwahr, former Associate Artistic Director of the McCarter, who directed the recent and wonderful The Mousetrap here, directed this play with a sure and benevolent hand.
The large and earnest cast was uniformly wonderful. Of special note are a few performances. Adeline Edwards as the Ghost of Christmas past was a great performance from someone so young. She commanded the stage with great presence and commitment, all while wearing a costume festooned with electric lights. Mr. Fezziwig, played by Thom Sesma, was a delight. He seemed to pop right off Dickens’ page, all while looking like Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in period dress. Anne L. Nathan was a bubbly, kind, yet bawdy Mrs. Fezziwig. Michael Genet was a stentorian, sepulchral Old Marley experiencing an extremely bad hair night. The Cratchits were a wonderful ensemble, from Bob (Jon Norman Schneider), to Mrs. Cratchit (Jessica Bedford), to the children, including the adorable Tiny Tim of Roman Engel. As Ebenezer Scrooge, Greg Wood was brilliant. His Scrooge was by turn sad, pathetic, frightening, then humane, joyful, and loving.
Aiding and abetting the spectacle onstage, A Christmas Carol employed a community ensemble in period costume who acted as carolers and townspeople milling about before the show, and acting in the show as well.
A Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition for many over the years, bringing much joy to those who see it. Try to see it this year. It may be the start of a holiday tradition for you, too.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted for the stage by David Thompson, will be at the Matthews Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, until December 31st. Next at the McCarter, Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones, January 12-February 11, 2018. The McCarter has a diverse offering of theatre, music, and dance continuing into 2018. For more information, and to purchase tickets, call 609-258-2787 or visit www.mccarter.org .