Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at ZACH THEATRE is A Joyful Yuletide Extravaganza!

Now playing Tuesdays through Sundays until December 31st, 2023

By: Dec. 08, 2023
Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at ZACH THEATRE is A Joyful Yuletide Extravaganza!

Zach Theatre's rendition of A Christmas Carol is a delightful infusion of holiday cheer, seamlessly blending Charles Dickens' timeless tale with a toe-tapping musical medley spanning country, rap, Christmas classics, and R&B. The brainchild of Dave Steakley, this festive production enchants audiences with an outstanding cast, lively choreography, catchy musical numbers, and the heartwarming theme of redemption.

Since its 2014 debut, Zach's A Christmas Carol has evolved into a cherished annual holiday tradition for me. This year's return held a special significance, evoking nostalgic memories of past family visits. With my two girls now in college, I brought a friend who, experiencing the show for the first time, instantly became a fan. As I clapped and danced enthusiastically with fellow audience members, my heart swelled with joy, reminiscent of the magical moments when my daughters first discovered the enchantment of live theatre on this very stage.

The plot, set in Victorian London on Christmas Eve, revolves around the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, portrayed brilliantly by Matt DeCaro. Scrooge, a curmudgeon with a heart as cold as the winter wind, is visited by three spectral guides who take him on a transformative journey through his past, present, and future. 

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at ZACH THEATRE is A Joyful Yuletide Extravaganza!
Keith Gruber (Fred) and the cast of A Christmas Carol
PC: Zach Theatre

The cast of Zach's A Christmas Carol has consistently been a highlight of Zach Theatre's productions, with past luminaries such as Michael Pouhe, Paul Sanchez, and Chanel Haynes-Schwartz. This year's ensemble, a dazzling constellation of both new and familiar faces, breathes life into the characters with charisma and depth. The vocal performances are truly extraordinary, with each note resonating with emotion and skill, whether in a vivacious ensemble piece or a tender soliloquy. 

Returning cast members Rod Sanford (Marley/Reverend) and Kenny Williams (Ghost of Christmas Past), delight us once again with their show-stopping performances and powerful voices. Matt DeCaro's portrayal of Scrooge is nuanced, capturing the character's evolution from miserly greed to the warmth of generosity. Paris Bennett lights up the stage with her vocal prowess, delivering an impeccable rendition of the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at ZACH THEATRE is A Joyful Yuletide Extravaganza!
Paris Bennett and Matt DeCaro in A Christmas Carol
PC: Zach Theatre

Ryan Everett Wood brings a fresh perspective to his emotional and memorable portrayal of Bob Cratchit, while Keith Gruber infuses an endearing quality into the character of Scrooge's nephew, Fred. Completing the brilliant adult cast are the multi-talented Jordan Barron, Mariel Ardilla, Keaton Brandt, Gabrielle North, Daisy Wright, Maggie Anderson, JP Lopez, and Hadley Rebtoy. The palpable chemistry among the cast members forms a cohesive ensemble that greatly enriches the overall theatrical experience.

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at ZACH THEATRE is A Joyful Yuletide Extravaganza!
Ryan Everett Wood and the cast of A Christmas Carol
PC: Zach Theatre

The young performers - "Green Cast" on the night I attended -  display remarkable poise and professionalism on stage, highlighting Austin's depth of talent. This is a testament to Zach Theatre's commitment to fostering emerging actors and to the city's vibrant artistic community.

Jen Young Mahlstedt's dynamic choreography brings a modern flair to the production. The flawlessly executed synchronized routines encompass a range of high-energy dance numbers and heartwarming duets, delivering a visually captivating spectacle.

Under the direction of Allen Robertson, the musical numbers are undeniably catchy, seamlessly integrating with the narrative. The score heightens the poignant beats of the story, ranging from jubilant celebrations to heartfelt solos that linger in the heart long after the show is over.

This year's production of A Christmas Carol is a feast for the senses, blending a stellar cast, uplifting musical numbers, and a timeless tale of humanity and self-reflection. It's a festive celebration that invites audience participation through the use of glowing sticks, adding to the cheerful atmosphere. This unique Austin-style theatrical production ensures an unforgettable experience, possibly becoming a cherished holiday tradition for your family.

A Christmas Carol

Written by Charles Dickens

Conceived, Adapted, and Directed by Dave Steakley

Music Direction by Allen Robertson

Choreographed by Jen Young Mahlstedt

The Topfer at ZACH Theatre

November 17 - December 31, 2023

202 South Lamar

Austin, Texas