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On opening night of A Christmas Carol, a theatre-goer was overheard to say, “The season has not started until I come down here and see this.”
Wait a minute!
This is only the second year of Preston Lane’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Already a tradition?
So it would seem.
Yes, A Christmas Carol is back at Triad Stage, and with it comes all the wonderful effects, wacky characters, seasonal sentiment, and spectacular staging, all tied up in a sparkling – and spooky – package.
Bryan Conger, last year’s assistant director, is at the helm of the beloved classic this year.
Without children, of course, this play would have not resounded for a century-and-a-half , and this year’s youthful cast is amazing, not only in the youngsters' wonderful accents, ensemble-sense, and singing and dancing abilities, but also their resoluteness (despite a few yawns) to remain in character long after their bedtimes. So cheers to Erik Feldmann, Michael Whittington, Justin Emmanuel Harrington, Elizabeth Beasley, Allyson Feldmann and Amy Claire Feldmann!
Isaac Feldmann is this year’s Tiny Tim, and this young actor, last seen in TS’s A Doll House, gives new meaning to the part. You must see this little troupe member to understand the fragility he brings to the role.
Gordon Joseph Weiss reprises his Ebeneezer Scrooge, and this year has his humbug on for real. If his guttural “Humbug” doesn’t give you the giggles, you are truly bereft of holiday humor. It’s a comedic role as well as a dramatic one, and Triad Stage veteran Weiss is sure to garner people’s choice for best “humbug” in A Christmas Carol. Funny how an actor can give one word a life of its own.
Ah, the ghosts. Junious Leak is back as Jacob Marley, and even more formidable than last year. Izzy Goff, a UNCG MFA student, is a mesmerizing Ghost of Christmas Past, glowing in every sense of the word. The operatic Christmas Present (and Mrs. Fezziwig), Rosie McGuire, is a Christmas Carol presence TS fans will delight to see return, as her effervescent personality further lights up the stage. Little Isaac Feldmann also plays the role of Christmas Future, a wonderfully welcome departure from the ubiquitous grim reaper seen in many stagings.
The layers of this production are as rich as Christmas strudel. For example, the narrator, Greensboro favorite Cassandra Lowe Williams, is a Jamaican beggar woman. Why the Rasta-rator in a British play? It might seem like a bit of Triad Stage edginess, but after the show Williams explained that there were actually quite a few Jamaican residents in England in Dickens’ time. Williams, a Greensboro native and Triad Stage favorite, gives a commanding and transporting performance once again.
Songs, dances, and even games are period pieces that imbue this production with an unusual historical accuracy. The Cratchits, including returning Josh Foldy as Bob and UNCG MFA student Catherine Delaney as Mrs. Cratchit, envelop us in the warmth of a loving Christmas family. Matthew Delaney, also at UNCG, gives a shining performance as Fred and young Scrooge, and Michael Tourek, Ramon Perez and Kendra Woodfolk add their Victorian manners (or lack of them) to round out the cast.
Perhaps the real stars of this production are the scenic, sound, projection and lighting designers – Howard C. Jones, David E. Smith, Nicholas Hussong, and John Wolf, respectively. Their whirlwind of sensual cacophony is worthy of Broadway – or any other stage in the world, for that matter. A little tweaking from last year makes the visuals all the more powerful; if you haven’t seen this masterpiece of technical production, you are missing a breathtaking experience.
Kelsey Hunt’s smashing Victorian runway costumes complete this Christmas cornucopia.
A Christmas Carol has a message that Preston Lane has admitted is his all-time favorite story, and it shows.
The cast does a great job of demonstrating that even though it took a ghost (or four) to show the old geezer, Scrooge finally gave himself the gift of humility, gratitude, and generosity, and when he did, he was indeed a changed person.
We should all be so blessed.
A Christmas Carol continues through 12/24. For details, see the sidebar.