– By Cate Marquis –
Nothing puts you in the holiday mood like A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Charles Dickens’ classic tale of miser finding his human heart actually helped popularize the holiday andhas been a staple ever since. The Fox Theater once again hosts A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Dec. 1-4. The Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s entertaining production of the classic has the bonus of featuring traditional Christmas carols as its musical score.
The classic tale of redemption is made lighter with Christmas carols and a little dancing, and a few touches of humor, in the Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s production. If one is going to turn A CHRISTMAS CAROL into a musical, this is definitely the way to do it. All the songs are traditional, mostly English carols, including “Good King Wenceslaus,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Here We Come A-Wassailing.” For those who like these classic carols, it is a nice break from the pop songs that often dominate the season.
Andy Harvey plays a wonderful EbenzercScrooge, hum-bugging with the best at the start and delightfully transformed by the end, in this charming stage version, giving a lively and entertaining performance. The curmudgeon Scrooge starts out as a more comic figure, delivering his over-the-top “bah humbugs” with flair but shifts into more serious mood as the play’s message is revealed.
The plays starts out a touch comic, in the style of the movie “Scrooged,” but settles down to a more serious tone mid-way. Dickens’ wrote his story novel to underline the time period’s income inequality and the coldness of the Malthusian economics (reflected in Scrooges’ comment about “reducing the excess population”) a theory popular in the upper classes at the time. That Scrooge helps his own employee, Bob Crachit (Jeffrey Keller), and local merchants, not just gives to charities, is part of the enduring strength of Dickens’ message.
Rounding out this fine cast are Jacob Valleroy as the ghost of Scrooge’s partner Jacob Marley, sweet Annabelle Dewater as Tiny Tim, and Ben Wolford as Scrooge’s cheerful nephew Fred. The Ghost of Christmas Past is played with energetic humor by Kristen Conrad while The Ghost of Christmas Present is played with Santa-like good humor by Blake Fountain and an enormous silent puppet portrays the ominous Ghost of Christmas Future, all to great effect.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a holiday tradition at the Fox, one that is most welcome every year.
© Cate Marquis