BWW Reviews: Theatre Downtown's A CHRISTMAS CAROL Warms the Heart
It's the classic Dickens tale that has a long history at Theatre Downtown. Theatre Downtown's A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a chilling, yet entertaining piece that stays true to the original story. It transforms a theater in Orlando to a cold winter in 1840's London. No matter what the temperature outside, the holiday spirit warms the heart in this telling tale.
Tim DeBaun was born to play Scrooge (and that is a true compliment). He plays the character as an archetypical grump, crankier than a toddler forced to go Black Friday shopping on Thursday. DeBaun's Scrooge is so miserable that he is pitiful, making it easy to root for Scrooge's "rehabilitation." DeBaun's facial expressions and character interpretation make him the perfect Scrooge. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is not just about an angry man learning to like the holiday, but also giving thanks and appreciating what we have.
The set is an amazing two floor structure that exudes the feeling of the late 1800s and sets the stage for a wintery play. Though a Florida winter may have a low of 50-degrees, the chill in the cozy theater is palatable. A frightening doorknocker adorns Scrooge's door and well-timed audio cues build the suspense for Scrooge's haunting. Theatre Downtown always makes great use of their space without sacrificing sight-lines.
Unlike most holiday classics, it is clear that A CHRISTMAS CAROL was written to be a dark story. The two of four spirits that visit Scrooge are Halloween-level scary. Scrooge's former partner, Jacob Marley (Kirk Woods), heavy with chains springs up to warn Scrooge. Marley's pain is haunting. Spirit Future (also Kirk Woods) is like a silent Grim Reaper who appears unforgiving. Without saying a word, Spirit Future merely points and sends shivers up the spine.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL would not be complete without the adorable Crachit family lead by Bob (Adam Boarman) and of course Tiny Tim (Ian Zweifel), who perfected the crutched walk. Kudos to the young actors who all nail the Cockney dialect.
There are some gorgeous period costumes, as well as, choreographed dances and games that would make Charles Dickens proud. The show is chock full of holiday songs, though sometimes the songs seem out of place especially when used as transitions. The acapella singing is great, but songs sung to the track were off. For example, it was difficult to discern who was more uncomfortable Spirit Present singing "Deck the Halls" or the audience forced to listen. The track was so speedy, the actor barely could catch a breath.
Overall, A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a great story played by a great cast and sets the mood for a happy holiday season. Come early as pre-show caroling begins 30-minutes prior to curtain. Directed by Frank Hilgenberg, A CHRISTMAS CAROL runs until December 23. For tickets and more information visit www.theatredowntown.net.
Photo Credit: Caroline Ross