A Christmas Carol at Little Theatre of Alexandria is a great way to get in the holiday spirit and reflect on Charles Dickens’ timeless themes of repentance and generosity. There is good reason that A Christmas Carol has become a staple of community and professional companies at this time of year, and I don’t think it necessary to introduce you to the worth of the story. Therefore, this review will explore what the audience can look forward to when viewing LTA’s production.
With opportunities for almost everyone in the cast of 32 having a chance to shine onstage for at least a moment, there is abundant talent reflected. Among a dozen or so delightful children, Eva Jaber started the story with a nice opening song and Josh Gordon portrayed a very cute and sympathetic Tiny Tim. A very strong young adult cast includes Matthew Fager, playing a doting father to Tiny Tim; Brendan Quinn as Scrooge’s nephew Fred, whose kindness and forgiveness are admirably presented; Eva Gary, playing Belle, the love of Scrooge in his earlier years. When Ryan Phillips, who plays the younger Scrooge, disregards Belle’s need for greater attention than he gives to his work, the couple provides one of the play’s most genuine emotional moments.
Many of the older adults in the cast shine while narrating the story, in addition to playing specific parts. Among my favorites of a very talented group is Lawrence O. Grey, Jr. as a mirthful Fezziwig, who reminds Scrooge that a business man can offer more important things to those around him than a paycheck. Grey plays a huge range of moods, as he also portrays the tortured spirit of Scrooge’s former partner, Jacob Marley. James Pearson is also delightfully versatile, using movement, voice, and facial reactions to portray a number of fun character parts.
Quite frankly, the play does hinge on the portrayal of Scrooge, and fortunately, LTA has a brilliant one. Tony Gilbert as Ebenezer Scrooge is a terrific curmudgeon, dismissing gestures of friendship and kindness and growling his humbugs to all. His joyful rebirth in the play’s finale is uplifting and his Christmas greetings to his London neighbors, take him delightfully into the smiling audience to share his mirth with them.
Anyone who has seen prior productions at LTA will be unsurprised to find strong design work. The set, designed by Mary Hutzler, has a beautifully painted backdrop of early 1800’s London, fronted by three buildings, the center of which is Marley and Scrooge’s office. All three buildings spin easily to present well-crafted street or interior views. One entrance by Mr. Cratchit and Tiny Tim is next to the audience through a door which has been embellished to represent that of a chapel in early 19th century London. The costume design by Juliana Confrancesco and Megan Murphy, is lovely, with some costumes really standing out, such as those worn by Fezziwig, Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
LTA’s production is adapted from Dickens’ book, by Michael J. Baker, Jr., the director, and Rachael Hubbard. The musical adaptation and music director is Linda Wells, who provides piano accompaniment from offstage for the nicely sung carols. This is a family-friendly holiday tradition that is worth bringing kids to enjoy.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.