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Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Geva Theatre

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Geva Theatre

What did our critic think of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Geva Theatre?

Christmas is a time of traditions. Be it caroling, making sugar cookies, decorating the tree, or hanging lights, folks love this time of year because of the traditions we create and revisit each December with our friends and loved ones. If you're like me, Geva Theatre's annual production of "A Christmas Carol" is one of your favorite holiday traditions, and for good reason. It's a consistently top-quality production filled with joy and merriment, and featuring many cast members who have been returning to Geva for this special show for years.

This staged version of A Christmas Carol is, of course, based on the timeless novella by Charles Dickens from 1843 that recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Preston), an elderly curmudgeon and local creditor who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley (Brandon Delgado) and the spirits of Christmas Past (Olivia Eloi-Evans/Elena Haak), Present (Joel Blum) and Yet to Come. The various spirits remind him of the people and events that shaped him, show the misery he's inflicting on his neighbors and relations, and foretell of his legacy after death if he doesn't learn to let love into his heart. After the celestial visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man, learning the true meaning of the joyous Christmas season.

Regular attendees of Geva's Carol will surely notice the sizable and noteworthy absence of longtime Scrooge Guy Paul who, previous to 2022, had been inhabiting the iconic role for over a decade. Paul's Scrooge had a larger-than-life stage presence and commanded the role with great spirit and physical humor. That said, Michael Preston is equally up to the challenge, adding his own flair to Scrooge that suit the role and add new dimensions and layers of depth. Preston is particularly effective in the earlier scenes when Scrooge is at his grumpiest.

Equally superb is Joel Blum, who-like Guy Paul, until this season-- has returned to Geva to play Fezziwig/Ghost of Christmas Present in numerous iterations of Geva's "Carol" since its 2010 inception. Blum is joyful and boisterous, acting as a perfect counterweight to Scrooge, with who he shares many scenes.

The true magic of Geva's Christmas Carol comes from the knowledge that it's a Rochester manifestation, born and raised (almost) entirely locally. While many---if not most---versions of the holiday classic seen on stages around the region and country are canned productions that travel from city-to-city, Geva's Carol features sets designed and built by Geva production staff; music by longtime Geva stalwart Don Kott; direction from Geva's longtime Artistic Director Mark Cuddy (who recently stepped down at the end of the 2021-2022 season); and a bountiful cast who---aside from the handful of lead roles---are Rochester actors. Special shoutout to all the SUNY Brockport students, SUNY Geneseo students, and young child performers from across Rochester's schools who help make this production so special.

"A Christmas Carol" will warm your heart, and is a true holiday treat for kids, grandparents, and everyone in between. It's playing at Geva Theatre until December 30th, for tickets and more information click here.



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Colin Fleming-Stumpf is a lover of all things theatre and performing arts. A native of Rochester, Colin has acted on stages across Western New York and is active in the local theatre community as a... (read more about this author)


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