The 32nd edition of Theatre in the Park founder and executive and artistic director Ira David Wood, III’s crowd-pleasing musical-comedy version of A Christmas Carol, which runs through Dec. 13th in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, is leaner and meaner; but the show still ran two hours and 45 minutes (including intermission) on opening night (Dec. 5th). Wood repeats his outrageous, over-the-top antics as English novelist Charles Dickens’ miserly old misanthrope Ebenezer Scrooge, the King of Mean in Victorian London, circa 1843; and Triangle theatergoers still turn out in droves and reward Wood, his stellar supporting cast, and his imaginative and resourceful creative team with a hearty standing ovation.

David Henderson is a delight as he repeats his role as the garrulous ghost of Scrooge’s long-dead partner Jacob Marley; David Moore and little Gracie Goetz reprise their charming performances as Scrooge’s poor, long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit and his crippled son Tiny Tim; Scotty Cherryholmes makes an impressive return to the show in the role as the cheeky Lamplighter, who narrates Scrooge’s improbable Christmas Eve conversion; and John Shearer and Mike Raab repeat their spirited characterizations of the ghosts of Christmas Present and Future.

Tyler Crocker is cute as the tiny ghost of Christmas Past; Stacie Alston and Nina Gunnell provide strong support to John Shearer as the Ghostie Singers; choreographer Matthew-Jason Willis and Jennifer Rowell dance a poignant pas de deux as the Young Scrooge and his long-lost love Laura; and newcomers Hayes Permar and Kathleen Lynch contribute personable portrayals as Scrooge’s scarcely acknowledged nephew Fred and his pretty young wife.

The spectacular new scenery designed by Mark Pirolo for the show’s 30th-anniversary production is still a feast for the eye; and choreographer Matthew-Jason Willis’ dynamic dance routines—particularly the frisky production numbers featuring the Chimney Sweeps and the Marlettes—and the high-octane instrumental accompaniment by musical director Diane Petteway and the ACC orchestra are also highlights of the show, which has always marked the beginning of the Christmas season for three generations of Triangle theatergoers.

Theatre in the Park presents A Christmas Carol Thursday-Friday, Dec. 7-8, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 10th, at 2 p.m.; and Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 11-13, at 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $12-$75. Note: The 2 p.m. Dec. 10th performance will be audio described by Arts Access, Inc. Theatre in the Park: Charles Dickens (The Victorian Web): A Christmas Carol: [inactive 11/09] (Theatre in the Park) and [inactive 12/09] and [inactive 12/06] (The Victorian Web). A Christmas Carol (e-text courtesy the University of Virginia):