The Little Theatre of Alexandria sticks close to Charles Dickens’ classic text in their charming production of this holiday favorite filled with opulent costumes, cute children, and real puppies – and they manage to steer clear of schmaltz.
Director Rachael Hubbard adapted the text herself and every word is pulled directly from the novel, leaving Dickens’ glorious words and nuanced story to speak for itself. She also performs a miracle of transformation as the set constantly and seamlessly changes between the many places and times Scrooge visits on his journey with this cast of over 30 adults and children (and dogs). It is a musical, but the music is all drawn from the period and fits seamlessly in Dicken’s story as each family celebrates Christmas with a carol. Eva Gary starts the play with a haunting Christmas song. Musical Director Linda Wells does a great job with a diverse cast of ages and ranges.
It all takes place before a huge clock and a painting of London by Set Designers Andrea D’Amato and Brian Sentman and Set Painter Diedre Nicholson Lamb. Lighting Designer Nancy Owen makes stark silhouettes and in general adds the spooky to the spirit’s visits. The costumes though, really make the mood complete. Ceci Albert and Lisa Brownsword scrounged up a beautiful and bright collection of period clothes, decked the spirits out in ethereal, glittering robes, and managed some truly impressive top hats.]
Mike Baker, Jr. (Scrooge) is the lynchpin of course, played with more dynamic emotion than I’ve seen. Gentlemen One and Two (John Shackelford and Joshua Jarrett) narrate the piece, quoting liberally from the novel with credible accents and a great deal of presence. Alexander Collins (Fred) is a beacon of joy on a stage brimming over with Christmas cheer. Olivia Hays and Robert Heinly (The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Marley) both had quite a lot of stage presence. Hays has perfected her accent. Heinly’s monologue as Marley belongs in some greater tragedy.
Larry Grey and Colleen Robinson (Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig) are plain hilarious. My favorite family was the Cratchits. Brian Clarke and Melanie Bales (Bob and Mrs. Cratchit) head the family with Benjamin Gossart, Kathryne Gould, Lindsey Gattuso, and Samantha Price as their children, along with Jovani Morales-Shakelford (Tiny Tim) really do make a loving family.
If you’re looking for A Christmas Carol that sticks close to Dickens’ vision that kids and adults will enjoy, The Little Theatre of Alexandria has delivered. This is a heart-warming, polished production that captures the spirit of the season. The whole cast imbues every role with such character. Everyone on the stage shines. I cried like a baby when Tiny Tim appeared to bless us all again.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol plays through December 20, 2014 at The Little Theatre of Alexandria – 600 Wolfe Street, in Alexandria, VA. For tickets, call (703) 683-0496, or purchase them online.