Presenting Christmas past
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol is a holiday mainstay, to say the least. The sentimental story of the melting of Scrooge’s icy heart is the most produced play in America, spawning many movie versions ranging from dramatic to musical to Muppetational.
Surprisingly, Sacramento Theatre Company is producing the only Christmas Carol in town this year, though a couple versions of Scrooge are floating about. STC brings back its time-tested Christmas Carol adaptation, created 20 years ago by Richard Hellesen with music by David de Berry. This production is also director Philip Charles Sneed’s swan song to local theater; the multitalented Sneed will soon leave Sacramento to head the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
Dickens’ full title for his Yuletide classic is A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. STC’s version emphasizes “ghost story” with bleak, dark sets depicting a dank, grimy London. Misty fog shrouds the dreary characters and haunting music adds poignancy to the story. There’s not a Muppet to be seen.
The success of A Christmas Carol weighs heavily on the two actors portraying the main characters of Scrooge and Bob Cratchit. Luckily, we get strong performances from both here. David Silberman manages to put a fresh spin on the crotchety old coot Scrooge with his flashes of sweetness and frailty. Gillen Morrison gives an endearing, heartfelt portrayal of Cratchit, a poor family man rich with good cheer.
Dickens’ wonderfully descriptive words are delivered through narration by the supporting cast, though the actors’ many versions of English accents can make them hard to understand. The dreariness of the production is, at times, a holiday downer. However, the story of Scrooge’s redemption is felt throughout. It will stay in the hearts of the audience long after Tiny Tim blesses everyone.