Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance Theatre

Call in Christmas at The Alliance Theatre!

By: Dec. 06, 2021
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Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance Theatre I have never been so moved by A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I genuinely cried several times during the show because of how beautiful it is. When Tiny Tim sent us off with, "God bless us, everyone," I was gone. Mask? Covered in tears. Makeup? Ruined. My heart? Destroyed. This show is so beautiful it brings me to tears.

If you're looking for a Broadway-level production in Atlanta, look no further than the Alliance Theatre. With a new script, a new score, and new costumes, A CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Alliance Theatre is a spectacularly hopeful revival of the classic Christmas story.

It also literally inspired me to eat cookies and drink hot chocolate while I wrote this review - that's how in-the-Christmas Spirit I am already!! Now, imagine a gorgeous London clock tower (not quite Big Ben, but Big Ben-esque) that looks like the inside of a snowglobe. It's so detailed, there's no way it moves but - hark! It spins like a top, and here is where Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge works and lives.

The technical prowess of The Alliance Theatre is unlike anything I've ever seen. The set, the props, the puppets, the lighting, the costumes, the special effects, the music, the sound, and the run crew are all flawless. I was gobsmacked by how seamlessly beautiful everything is. Lights like snow filled the theatre, music like angels singing filled the air, and props imbued with meaning melted the coldest parts of me.

Shout-out to those not onstage in this production - y'all did and are doing a fantastic job.

David H. Bell's updated adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is incredibly effective. I'd like toReview: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance Theatre commend Leora Morris and Jody Feldman for how smartly they double-cast this show. Not an effort was wasted, and it was easy to follow along who was who and when.

The great new designs, scores, and script of the show are enhanced by equally great performances. After seeing him as Lemml in Theatrical Outfit's production of INDECENT by Paula Vogel, I was delighted to see Andrew Benator onstage again. A CHRISTMAS CAROL regular, Benator has played a variety of roles in previous productions, including Jacob Marley. This year is his first time playing Scrooge. What I loved about him in INDECENT is even more profound in A CHRISTMAS CAROL - his raw vulnerability.

The only way to change is by being vulnerable, and Benator is a master of wearing his heart on his sleeves. His cold, surly, and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge melts into a warm, enthusiastic, and child-like man who loves being kind to others. Benator's awkward, genuine candor filled my heart with hope. It takes the whole show for Benator to open up, and he is worth the wait.

Alongside him are the four ghosts Scrooge meets with throughout the night. The first is Matthew Morris's heavy and desperate Jacob Marley. Morris's performance is full of cunning, exactitude, and - at the right times - bombastic cheer. The next, Rhyn McLemore's hauntingly angelic Christmas Past. McLemore's warmth radiates from the stage as she indulges in a generous Christmas spirit, and her coolness draws you in as she tempers herself with moments of cold accountability.

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance Theatre

Eugene H. Russell IV as Christmas Present has a commanding presence, booming voice, and impeccable poise. Russell's magnificent singing voice infuses his performance with a magical grandiosity. As the final spirit, Lyndsay Ricketson disappears into the dramatic, looming, and inescapable Christmas Future. I've never seen such an effective Christmas Future on stage. Ricketson's focus, poise, and ability to be slow ground the show to a chilling halt as she commanded the stage.

Outside of his dreams, Scrooge has one family member left, his nephew played by Caleb Clark. An idiosyncratic actor, Clark deftly crafts discrete characters as he weaves in and out of the story playing both Scrooge's nephew, Fred, and a young Scrooge himself. Clark's attention to detail, commitment to his characters, and ability to be present within the story make his performance powerful.

Scrooge's keeper, Margaret Ivey as Mrs. Dilber, is perhaps the only bright spot in Scrooge's study and Ivey shines as a beacon of goodwill during her performance. Asia Rogers returns again to the Alliance Stage after DARLIN' CORY and brings warmth, kindness, and her own gentle take on the women in Scrooge's family.

The ever-beloved ragtag Cratchit family is full of Christmas spirit once again. Christopher L. Morgan as Bob Cratchit is a sincere and dedicated man; Morgan's enthusiasm and thoughtfulness provide an undeniably solid foundation for the family. Clare Latham as Mrs. Cratchit vivaciously scampers after her children on stage and brings with her a feeling of home wherever she goes.

Following behind the Cratchit couple are their 5 children. Kevin Qian as Peter Cratchit holds more power than he may realize as he's able to shift the mood onstage in an instant. Lizzie Park as Melinda brings a wild spirit to life on stage full of vitality and energy. Lena Castro as Wyatt is so playful it makes you want to join her onstage. Maggie Birgel as Martha sparks joy in other characters and the audience alike. Last but never least, Chloe Gia Bremer as Tiny Tim puts a beaming face to child-like faith.

Along with the Cratchits come the Watkins, another local family indebted to Scrooge.

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance Theatre

Neal Ghant as Mr. Watkins, and later Mr. Fezziwig, is another A CHRISTMAS CAROL mainstay and brings a hearty sense of generosity and gusto to this year's production. Caitlin Hargraves as Missy Watkins delights with her natural charisma and incredible character work. Stepping into the spotlight, Caleb Baumann as Matthew Watkins reminds me of a young Alexander Hamilton - young, scrappy, and hungry.

The local lamplighter and his son (Christopher Hampton and Austin Barcoas), find themselves playing a variety of roles throughout the story. Hampton's versatility and playful demeanor make him a delight to watch on stage. Barcoas's quiet confidence captured the audience like no one else.

I won't spoil anything for you, but it should come as no surprise that this show is full of beautiful Christmas carols. What may surprise and delight you at the end of the show, however, is who gets to sing them.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a magnificently heartwarming show that features a wonderful cast and a timeless story. Go to be transported, and arrive back home with a newfound sense of gratitude.

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance Theatre

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Alliance Theatre runs now through December 24th. Get your tickets here!