It’s easy to get sucked into the mad frenzy of American consumerism during the holidays. Black Friday creeps ever earlier, and the Hydra of long lines, long lists, traffic lights, and clearance sales is enough to make us all forget that some people won’t be having a Merry Christmas, or a Happy New Year. Some people won’t have a tree, or a house, or a meal. It is this hard-to-look-at truth that Wolf Pack Theatre Company chooses to focus on with its modern adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
The message of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic has always been one of generosity and kindness, but writer and Director William Leary uses this production to push a message of social justice that isn’t always apparent in a more traditional staging. But this Christmas Carol is about more than a message on stage. Wolf Pack Theatre Company has partnered with Community Crisis Services Inc. and St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church to contribute directly to services for the homeless in Prince George’s County. In a time when the arts in general, and theatre in particular, may seem isolated from the realities of everyday life, Wolf Pack is doing the best work that the arts can do – giving back to the community.
The cast of Christmas Carol puts a lot of heart into their acting and singing (yes, it is a musical too!). Ray Converse plays the stingy Mr. Scrooge, while Lauren Giglio (Belle, as well as the Music Director) fills the open space of St. John’s with her beautiful vocals.
Robert Scott, as the much-abused Bob Cratchit, and his wife, Rachel, played by Melanie Pino-Elliott, added a dose of heartbreaking realism as a family pushed into homelessness by high medical bills. Alie Kamara, as Scrooge’s nephew Edward, and Ladi Richards, as Edward’s wife, Holly, also do a good job of portraying folks who are down on their luck.
But the true star of the show is young Sophia Nasreen Riazi-Sekowski, who plays Tiny Tim with an expressive authenticity not seen in many actors much older than she.
The colorful lighting design is by Stephen Beitzell, and the creative costumes are by Doreen Roberts.
In a holiday season too often inundated with iPhones and turkeys and family stress, it is refreshing to be reminded of those less fortunate. As the Ghost of Christmas Past (Casey Hobart) reminds Scrooge, we all have the power to make choices to help others. And that may be the best Christmas present of all.
Running Time: Two and a half hours, with one fifteen-minute intermission.
A Christmas Carol plays December 6-7 and 12-14, 2014 at Wolf Pack Theatre Company, performing at St. John Lutheran Church – 5820 Riverdale Road, in Riverdale, MD. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online.
Proceeds from A Christmas Carol will be donated to the Warm Nights Hypothermia Shelter Program.