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Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

Everybody knows A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens's classic tale is a staple of the holiday season. It is so well known, that producers often feel the need to put their own spin on it. There have been eclectic versions of the story featuring Mr. Magoo, Mickey Mouse, The Muppets, and even a surly Bill Murray. Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre takes their own shot at the story in their current holiday production.

Robert Summers stars as Scrooge. He puts the "miser" in miserable. However, he is not portrayed as especially cruel or vindictive. In fact, the script enables us to get some sympathy for him along the way. The Ghost of Christmas Past flashes him back to his childhood, where the elder Scrooge was sent to debtor's prison, and implores the young Ebeneezer to save his pennies before being carted off by the police. It is a good reminder that the past events of your life have a strong impact on making you who you are today.

The three ghosts (Christmas Past, Present, and Future) approach their parts quite differently. Theresa Walker (Past) is the soft, gentle spirit who reminds Scrooge of who he used to be. Timothe Bittle (Present-and my favorite) is a loud, boisterous jokester who encourages Scrooge to enjoy life and appreciate it for what you got.

Bittle leads other spirits in a rousing number titled "Abundance and Charity". From an entertainment perspective, it was spectacular. However, from a plot perspective-a 20th Century American tap dance number made little sense in Merry Olde England.

The Ghost of Christmas Future (Alicia McGinty) was the most non-traditional of all the characters. Instead of a mysterious and intimidating embodiment of death, Future Ghost was portrayed as an agile and attractive female dancer. I wasn't convinced that this approach would put the scare in Scrooge to significantly change his ways.

Other stand-outs from the cast include Connor Simpson as Bob Cratchit, and Craig Smith as Jacob Marley. The role of Tiny Tim is shared between Quinn Andrew Fickes and Jack Packer. I am not sure which Tim was at my performance, but he was adorable!

I was unfamiliar with the music prior to the show. Several of the tunes had little bits in them that sounded very similar to popular songs from iconic Disney princess movies such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Therefore, I was not at all surprised when I reached for my program at intermission and found that the show was composed by the great Alan Menken. The songs were fun and helped forward the story. The orchestra was spot on. My only complaint was with the number at Mr. Fezziwig's bank which seemed to go on entirely too long.

The costumes were consistently beautiful, and period appropriate. The sets and special effects added some cool touches including a lumbering, headless ghost, and a hologram of Marley's ghost.

The Dutch Apple's production of A Christmas Carol is a great piece of festive entertainment. Although it doesn't set out to reinvent the story in any significant way, many audience members will appreciate the tradition and familiarity that it brings. Tickets and more info can be found at the theatre's website.

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Open Stage, a theatre company in downtown Harrisburg, has launched an accessibility program that will provide American Sign Language-interpreted performances including its upcoming holiday shows Who's Holiday! on Dec. 1 and A Christmas Carol on Dec. 7.

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From This Author - Rich Mehrenberg

Rich Mehrenberg was introduced to the magic of theater when he played "The Boy" in his first grade class production of "The Giving Tree". It has been a long term love affair eve... (read more about this author)

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