BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Perfect Holiday Entertainment!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL is presented in Round Rock by Penfold Theatre Company. Adapted from the classic Charles Dickens novel by Nathan Jerkins, this delightful recount tells the redemptive story of an icy-hearted miser and the wonder of Christmas. The timeless story originally written in 1843 tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Robert L. Berry). Scrooge is visited by spirits of past, present, and future in the course of one night in hopes of transforming the unkind miser into a more charitable man. This production reimagines the story as a classic radiocast told by five actors portraying all of the beloved characters and engineering live sound effects throughout.
The five-person cast (Robert L. Berry, Clint Harris, Elizabeth Bernhardt, Julia Lorenz-Olson, and James "Bobby" Byers) takes on the immense task of telling this tale with enthusiasm and zest. The actors inhabit their characters with innovative energy and aptitude. Between charming retro-style commercials that break up the action, the cast weaves a delightful tapestry of holiday magic. Their incredible talent is only matched by the pristine dialect work distinctive to each role. Every performance is an accomplishment with stand-out portrayals coming from James Byers and Julia Lorenz-Olson. As the imposing figure of Jacob Marley, Byers looms over the audience and adds a truly terrifying element to this holiday ghost story. Lorenz-Olson is a formidable, yet jovial force as the Ghost of Christmas Present and her other roles. Quick and astute, Lorenz-Olson never misses a moment, comedic or otherwise, to entertain during the production.
Sound designers, Brett Weaver and Buzz Moran gift the audience with the rare treat of rich and robust sound effects, a portion of which are created live onstage. From the ominous rattle of chains and creaky doors to the cheery sounds of ambient carols; the artistry carried out by the cast crafts an abundant soundscape that transports the audience right into the world of Dickens' masterpiece.
Together, Jerkins and director, Ryan Crowder utilize every moment of the ninety-minute production to offer a deeper study of the story and the lesson it offers. Each interaction and discovery that many have seen and heard a hundred times before is presented with a remarkably fresh perspective. The initial inability and callous refusal of Scrooge to see past his own circumstances are as significant today as it was when the original book was first published in 1843. The ultimate redemption of the unkind miser is only possible once he is forced to look directly at how his actions affect those less fortunate. Compelled to gaze into the eyes of humanity, it is no longer possible for Scrooge to write off "the surplus population." A lesson all too relevant for today's audiences.
In short, A CHRISTMAS CAROL is perfect holiday entertainment. This deeply affecting tale is filled with the redeeming power of love and the importance of charitable giving. Beautifully presented in a fun and festive package this production can be enjoyed by kids from one to ninety-two. Grab a cookie, a cup of hot cocoa and settle in to rediscover the story that made Christmas merry to begin with.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL is now playing at Old Settler's Hall (3300 East Palm Valley Blvd. Round Rock, TX) until December 29th, Thursday-Saturday at 8:00 pm and Saturday at 2:00 pm.
Run time approx. 90 mins with 15-minute intermission
Tickets: $15-$25. Prices vary per date. Discounts for students, seniors, veterans, and educators available.