Review: A Christmas Carol

For instant time-travel, simply add the mutton chops.

For instant time-travel, simply add the mutton chops.

Photo courtesy of charr crail photography

Wed 7pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm. Through 12/24. $40-$20. Sacramento Theatre Company, 1419 H Street, Sacramento. (916) 443-6722.
Rated 4.0

This is the 30th anniversary revival of the Sacramento Theatre Company’s adaptation of the Dickens classic, with a script by Richard Hellesen (still teaching at American River College) and music by David de Berry (who came from Redding, studied theatre at UC Davis, and became STC’s resident composer; he died in 1995).

Co-directors Michael Laun and Michael Jenkinson deftly deploy their large cast (including a platoon of youthful performers—and the bright-eyed kids bring freshness to the proceedings). Jenkinson—who recently became an associate artist with STC—also plays the long-suffering Bob Crachit, opposite crafty old veteran Matt K. Miller, who finds clever, understated ways to interpret the mean-spirited, parsimonious Scrooge at a time when actors in the role are being upstaged daily by a grumpy billionaire in the White House. This production is also a family affair: Miller’s son Max plays Tiny Tim, alternating with cute fourth grader Miller Traum, whose relative Tylar Traum is also in the cast. Many of the 20-something guys in the cast have grown real sideburns, a nice touch.

I saw the show at a Sunday matinee that drew a full house, including grinning grannies, giggling Girl Scouts and wide-eyed 5-year-olds (spooked by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who resembles the Grim Reaper).

The play ends with the reformed Scrooge shyly putting coins in a cup held by a scruffy girl on the streets, whom Scrooge had struck the day before. And as you leave the theater, you may run into a real homeless person on the sidewalk—a reminder that Charles Dickens’ message of conscientious charity is as relevant here and now as it was when Dickens penned this morality tale in Victorian London back in 1843.