BWW Reviews: Pioneer Theatre Company's A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL Embodies the Holiday Spirit
Pioneer Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol: The Musical is an enchanting embodiment of the spirit of the holidays.
A Christmas Carol: The Musical (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens) is based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens. It documents the visits of four ghosts to a miser named Ebenezer Scrooge, who learns the true meaning of Christmas in the process.
A Christmas Carol is a holiday staple throughout the world and has an especially strong tradition in Utah theatre. This adaptation, though, is something different and special. It focuses more on the back-story of Scrooge and the experiences that turned him into the man he has become. It also features wonderfully memorable songs from the singularly talented Alan Menken (Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Newsies) and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Once On This Island).
The show sometimes glosses over plot points and character development in favor of glitzy production numbers that often feel out of place, as if that's what is required to be considered a full-fledged, crowd-pleasing Broadway musical. Still, that's no fault of Karen Azenburg (in her first directorial foray as the theatre's artistic director) or her cast, who have winningly staged and performed the material provided them.
Starring as Ebenezer Scrooge is the delightful Jamie Jackson, who infuses the character with both humor and pathos. It is a portrayal that rivals the great Scrooges of the stage and screen in its emotional honesty and pure energy.
Other excellent performances of note include Kevin Earley (who was featured in Broadway's A Tale of Two Cities) as Bob Cratchit, Gerry McIntyre as the Ghost of Christmas Present (a role he played for three seasons at Madison Square Garden), and Ephie Aardema (who played Natalie in PTC's Next to Normal last season) as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Set designer George Maxwell has created lovely scenery reminiscent of Victorian Christmas cards, and the costumes by Carol Wells-Day are both convincing and painterly. The production's design and staging usher in a heightened reality where the spirit of Christmas permeates the past, present, and future.
A Christmas Carol: The Musical plays through December 15, 2012. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit www.pioneertheatre.org.
Photo Credit: Jamie Jackson (Scrooge). Photo by Alexander Weisman.