Review: Change Your Life Overnight in 3 Easy Steps!—A Christmas Carol at The Alliance

A Timeless Lesson On Gratitude

By: Dec. 11, 2022
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A Christmas Carol

The Alliance Theatre's annual production of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol adapted by David H. Bell and directed by Leora Morris, runs on the Coca-Cola Stage until December 24, 2022. Described as "one of Atlanta's most treasured holiday traditions," this production is Alliance's 34th. It is also a remount of last year's reimagined staging, design, and performance features "stunning new costumes, beautiful live music, exciting puppetry, and a reconceived set design." It's easy to say Alliance's A Christmas Carol is a holiday gift in itself. The story is a timeless reminder of what a little kindness, generosity, and gratitude can do to not only change your own life, but also your community that surrounds you.

One of the advantages of staging a story like A CHRISTMAS CAROL is its timeless and global message. While the modern magic of the holiday season commonly affects our young, A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a reminder that no matter our age, location, or era, we can still accept our families, our communities, our world-as they are. To simply appreciate all of life, including the painful parts, with the compassion of a child. How we perceive our surroundings--it's a choice. Why not choose innocence and love?

A CHRISTMAS CAROL is the consummate tale of what much of humanity, beyond survival, craves at its core: relief from regret, redemption for our wrong doings, and acceptance by our communities. Forgiveness cannot thrive without gratitude, and gratitude needs awareness and perception. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a fast track to all of these.

A wealthy man, Ebenezer Scrooge, exhibits the cycled pattern of greed and callousness, misery and loneliness feeding on itself with no end in sight. One night on Christmas Eve, the phobia of an ouroboros life full of regret hangs over him until he falls asleep. The audience then wonders, which came first, his greed or his misery? Will he ever be happy? What could possibly change this man, but himself? Well, thanks to the effectiveness of the subconscious (our dreams) as well as the hindsight of our ancestry (talking ghosts) turns out that just three lessons in memory, presence, and applied logic, can break the cycle of personal tragedy.

After one night of quality navel-gazing, Scrooge wakes a changed person and thus affects the lives of everyone around him through gratitude, forgiveness, and generosity--major ingredients to happiness. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a not-so-secret life-hack. Even you can do it too in 3 easy steps!

Leading the cast for the second year as Ebenezer Scrooge is the superb Andrew Benator. Their transformation from misery to joy is so profoundly palpable, you feel Scrooge grieve for his inner child. It's so deep that you can't help but think about your own as well as those of your fellow travelers around you. Benator uses body where words cannot reach. Scrooge gestures and moves to a heightened level that shows the audience what it feels like to carry the weight of trauma, where it hurts, and the utter bliss of being silly when letting it go. Helpful skills for effecting balcony-seated audiences.

The story itself lends to a sharp contrast in character, but Benator shifts their energy from villainous to altruistic so quickly the lessons of the story hit funny bones and relief valves at just the right moments, thus, we actually learn the most essential lesson of A CHRISTMAS CAROL and the holiday season itself: you can stop and start again at any moment. You can turn hate to love in a blink.

Benator's skill shines, alongside several outstanding cast mates. Emberlynn Wood, who makes her professional theater debut in the role of Tiny Tim, commands an already impressive stage. The ensemble is unified in their collaboration, clearly enjoying each other's storytelling and delighting in their work. The versitile and talented cast includes Thomas Neal Antwon Ghant, Mary Lynn Owen, Brad Raymond, Matthew Morris, Christopher Hampton, Clare Latham, Rhyn McLemore, Asia Rogers, Caleb Baumann, Caleb Clark, Dane Troy, and many more.

These performers and the crew behind the scenes, tend to work tirelessly during the holidays. They remind us of the heroics our theatremakers can do for us. They train for years and seek to find ways to share how to feel the hard things that teach the big lessons.

The creative team for A CHRISTMAS CAROL has transformed a play into a world. One that includes a massive rotating set giving backdrop to an entire town. The lead creatives are Associate Director Kayce Denise, Sound Designer Clay Benning, Set Designer Todd Rosenthal, Costume Designer Mariann Verheyen, Lighting Designer Greg Hofmann, Composer Kendall Simpson, Dialect Coach Elisa Carlson, Intimacy Consultant Amelia Fischer, and Music Director Greg Matteson. Puppet Design for A CHRISTMAS CAROL was provided by Tom Lee and Blair Thomas. Delbert Hall serves as Puppet Flying Director.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and go see live theatre together this season. Support your hardworking Atlantan artists and storytellers. Start a new tradition. A CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Alliance is a wonderful Atlanta holiday experience. Get your tickets before they are gone!

Photo: Greg Mooney


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