A Christmas Carol
Here they are once again: Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and each of the three Christmas Ghosts, all doing their best to remind audiences of the wonder and beauty of the Christmas Spirit. Joining the traditional characters this year is a modern-day family retelling the tale of that fateful December night when Ebenezer Scrooge came to embrace the Christmas Spirit and learn to keep it through all the year. As each family member takes on a number of roles to tell the tale, the fun ensues as they mix the roles, jumping from character to character in a tongue-in-cheek version of the Christmas classic.
Presented in a narrative style originally adapted for the Solano College Theater in 1999 by local actress and director Christine Nicholson, this version of A Christmas Carol proves to be a refreshing change from traditionalism—and one filled with unexpected laughs and a number of touching moments.
Local actor and Synergy Stage member David Harris, who boasts an extensive list of directing and performance credits, tackles the direction of the production. Harris keeps a show that, with its continuously changing characters, sight gags and potential technical nightmares, could easily go awry on a steady and seemingly effortless trip from start to finish.
Elly award-winning actor Blair Leatherwood stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. With a loud “Bah! Humbug!” and an equally loud nightcap, Leatherwood delivers a solid performance. The actor won an Elly award for his performance in The Lisbon Traviata for Lambda Players; he recently portrayed Prospero in The Tempest for the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival.
Fellow performers Katherine Pappa, Lori Ann Delappe, John Lewitzke and James Roberts join Leatherwood. The ensemble cast manages an enjoyable and entertaining performance. Nygel Ellis is delightful as both the youngest member of the family and as Tiny Tim.
Another delight in the production is George Schau as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Schau steals many of his scenes with over-the-top antics and well-timed humor.
Likewise, Maggie Upton shines, adding her usual touch of flair to her role as Christmas Present. Upton comes fresh from directing The Waiting Room for Beyond the Proscenium Productions and was nominated for a Best Director Elly for her work on The Cripple of Inishman at the Thistle Dew Dessert Theater. Set designer and Synergy Stage member Luther Hansen has created a number of different scenes with a minimum of space on the small stage of the Delta King Theater. With panels of wall set on a number of turnstiles, the cast goes from one scene to the next with little more effort than a turn of the panel.
There are upwards of four productions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol playing in local theaters, but it is rare to have versions that are as diverse as the ones being offered this season to Sacramento audiences. Synergy Stage’s offering will be a delight for audiences of every age and who may want a holiday classic told with a twist and dose of fun.