A Christmas Carol

Rated 4.0

This worthy musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, written in 1987 by local playwright Richard Hellesen and the late composer David de Berry is a bankable holiday franchise for the Sacramento Theatre Company (STC). (It’s also an export: There are productions in three other states this month.) In the right hands, it also can be a rewarding show—even if you’ve seen it before. This year’s model is the best production STC has mounted in many a year.

What went right this time around? Director Philip Charles Sneed respects the text (which he knows well from working on Foothill Theatre Company’s literary adaptation last year). But he also brings a fresh eye to this version. He understands that, although the show has a big cast, it’s ultimately a personal story: one sour old man’s transformation. There are pleasing little flourishes throughout, as well as elements that other recent directors have cut or mishandled.

This production also has a superior cast. Playing Scrooge is Richard Farrell, fresh from eight seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Suzanne Irving, another Ashland, Ore., alum, is Mrs. Cratchit. Allen Pontes plays Bob Cratchit, and David Silberman tackles Jacob Marley. J.T. Holmstrom, who last year laid on the mirth a bit thick as the Ghost of Christmas Present, is in much better form this time.