They’ve done it again.
But then, after mounting a production for 37 years, one would expect quality, precision, and a darned good yarn.
And that is exactly what audience members of Actors Theatre’s A Christmas Carol will get.
The story, you know. Scrooge, Marley, three spirits, Tiny Tim, etc., etc. etc.
That hasn’t changed since Dickens first published the words in 1843.
But the folks at Actors give this holiday tradition just a bit more oomph than your run-of-the-mill penny-pincher turned philanthropist plot.
Unlike other adaptations, this one includes a fair amount of harmonized song and dance spread over a beautiful 19th century London scene.
That music, often a cappella, but occasionally accompanied with instrumentation, including dazzling young harpist, Elise Coughlan, was well-balanced, clear, and added a festive touch.
The other local youngsters in the production sparkle as well. Tiny Tim (Lincoln Elementary second graders Alec and Brad DeLaney) is cute as a button, and 12-year-old Alex Amaya gives Scrooge a run for his money in the closing scene with his hilarious expressions.
This version of A Christmas Carol has the expected poignant scenes with the Cratchit family and the scary moments with Marley (Larry Bull), but it has quite a few unexpected elements of humor as well.
In one of those “only in live theatre” moments, the Ghost of Christmas Present (the vibrant David Ryan Smith) appeared on stage in a flurry of glitter—with one colossal piece of it landing directly on his open mouth. Rarely does an actor get to share such a moment with his audience. But Smith played it perfectly, and had the house rolling with laughter.
In this production, the strengths are many and the missteps few.
In fact, on opening night, the biggest problem was not with the actors or the show itself, but with the talkative toddler that one family decided to bring to the production, disturbing a good portion of the auditorium.
Humbug aside, be it your first time or your fifteenth, A Christmas Carol is a worthy holiday custom.
And kudos to production stage manager Paul Mills Holmes who has been behind the scenes and calling the shots of this Louisville tradition for 20 years.
When you go, bring some spare bills. As in years past, cast members will be collecting donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Though this disease may no longer be at the forefront of most people’s minds, 7,400 people are infected each day, leaving 33 million people worldwide with HIV/AIDS (www.iavi.org).
A Christmas Carol, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, continues through December 23. Tickets start at $24 and may be purchased online or by calling 502-584-1205. Discounted rates for children ages 5-14 are available for selected performances.
Image: Courtesy Actors Theatre