Review: ‘A Christmas Carol’ returns to LTA

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Bob Chaves as Scrooge. (Photo/Matt Liptak)
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By Luke Anderson | [email protected]

‘Tis the season once again in Alexandria. The Christmas tree is lit in Market Square, storefronts are decked with wreaths and garland and the Little Theatre of Alexandria is showing its annual and much-loved “A Christmas Carol,” adapted from the novella by Charles Dickens.

Set in London in 1843, the play sticks with the traditional storyline: Ebenezer Scrooge, a stingy and crotchety old man, sees the ghost of his deceased business partner, who tells him that he will be visited by three spirits — the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. The spirits show him the follies of his past and the present effect of his greed and cynicism. When he is shown his unfortunate fate, he undergoes a heart-warming metamorphosis and attempts to make amends with the people he has neglected.

In the production’s program, director Kelsey Yudice writes that she first fell in love with theatre at 12 years old, when she got her first part in “A Christmas Carol” at her community theatre. While watching and performing the play as a child, “[she] was in awe of the magic brought to life on the stage and the camaraderie between audiences and performers,” Yudice wrote.

The multi-level set, designed by John Downing, helps create that magic. The right and center stage looks like brick buildings lining an old London street, while the left side is designated as Scrooge’s bedchamber, which is a cold, dark gray stone wall crowned with a gothic, hand-painted stained glass window.

Bob Chaves is not the meanest version of Scrooge ever portrayed, but his tall stature and facial expressions in the opening scene are intimidating enough. He was a convincing misanthrope and delivered several rich lines. Fed up with the cheerfulness of his neighbors in one scene, Scrooge says that he hopes they will be “boiled in pudding and buried with holly through their heart.”

Sharon Fernandez deserves praise in her role as the Ghost of Christmas Past, which she depicted as an angelic and soft-spoken spirit. In a very different part, she brings humor to the stage as Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s maid.

In some darker renditions of the show, the mood turns frightening when the Ghost of Christmas Future shows up. A man sitting beside me later said that he would have preferred the final ghost in this production to be face-less and scarier. In her role as the Ghost of Christmas Future, Florence Ferraro shows Scrooge his future while wearing a long black dress and cloak. She does not speak directly and her face is very visible.

Ferraro could have been made more mysterious by wearing a hood, but this would deny the audience the pleasure of a small yet substantial moment in the last scene where Ferraro returns on stage as a beggar. Scrooge does not see her at first, but when he turns and sees her familiar face outside of his haunting dreams, he jumps subtly and then, having learned his lesson, places a coin in her cup.

In a few instances, the dual roles seem to work well, but not so much in others. The play is approximately an hour and a half and most of the actors play between two and four different roles, one prominent and the others supporting. Despite speedy wardrobe changes, the variances in costumes were not always significant enough to differentiate between characters, making things somewhat confusing when the same actor is on stage in alternating roles.

This is perhaps the production’s Achilles heel, although it does not ruin it. The talented cast still delivers a moving performance, and the story still illustrates the importance of kindness and selflessness.

The rest of the cast includes Alexandra Beach, Tom Bethards, Chase Bolden, Kevin Broderick, Emily Hemmingson, Luca Lorenzen-Schmidt, Aimee Meher-Homji, Charlotte Nichols, Erika Olander, Tyson Samuels, James Senavitis, Arielle Senavitis, Julia Stimson, Zoey Vaghin-Canks and Devin Walsh.

At the end, Tiny Tim proclaims, “God bless us, every one!” and the cast sings “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” leaving only warm and happy feelings after the curtains close. It is perfect for family-friendly fun and recommended to anyone who needs an extra push to get into the holiday spirit.

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