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Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Open Stage

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Open Stage

The holiday classic is on stage through December 23rd.

The classic novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a holiday favorite that comes in many forms. Fans of this spooky holiday tale can enjoy the novel or one of the many adaptations for stage and screen. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit never fails to tug at the heart-strings and reminds us about the things that are really important. Under the direction of Stuart Landon, Open Stage presents its 23rd production of A Christmas Carol through December 23rd.

The set design and lighting of this particular production highlight the Gothic atmosphere of this Victorian-era holiday ghost story. The well-timed use of sound effects such as thunder and a chiming clock and lighting effects such as blackouts and backlighting heighten the spookiness. The only effect that did not seem to work particularly well was the sound alteration used for the Ghost of Christmas Past. When the speed of the line was quick, the sound effect made it difficult to understand the words and became rather distracting. However, all of the other aspects of this production work well together to create a beautiful theatre experience. The costumes are outstanding-transporting the audience into Victorian London and emphasizing the class differences that are so important in A Christmas Carol.

The production opens with the Undertaker (played by Jeff Wasileski) and characters called Apparitions (portrayed by Andrew Dixon, Jasmine Graham, Jack Hoover, Ollie Nicotera, Tyler Shadle, and Joellen Terranova) moving across the stage in an eerie but beautifully choreographed manner. Without even speaking a word, Wasileski's stage presence draws all eyes toward him as the Undertaker directs the Apparitions. The actors playing the Apparitions move in a synchronized manner and use their posture and movements to make the characters legitimately scary.

There is not a single weak link in this production. Patty Cole is delightfully comedic as Mrs. Dilber and plays Emily Cratchit with grace and emotional depth. Chris Krahulec takes on one of the quirkiest characters as the Charwoman. Her facial expressions and posture are perfect for the role. Gabriella DeCarli's performance as Mrs. Fezziwig and Elizabeth brings out their vivacious natures. Patrick Hughes takes on the roles of Mr. Fezziwig and Fred, who are both larger than life and focused on the important things in life-family, friends, and the welfare of those around them. Hughes and DeCarli are well-matched and bring light and life to their scenes. Andrew Dixon and Tyler Shadle are hilarious as the Solicitors, bringing comedic relief even through the way they walk. Shadle also takes on the character of a younger Ebenezer and interacts well with Joellen Terranova's Belle, bringing to light the joy of their young love followed by the heartache of their break-up. Jasmine Graham and Jack Hoover portray the oldest Cratchit children, Martha and Peter. They play these roles with a combination of playfulness and solemnity that gives the audience a glimpse into the difficult lives of children on the cusp of adulthood who must work to help support their families.

Audiences are sure to find the youth cast members, who play carolers and child members of various households, absolutely charming. There are two youth casts, so depending on the performance, audiences may see a different group of young actors. This reviewer was delighted by the performances of Shenoa Alcantara, Sawyer Bowie, Rosie Campbell, Bryce Carter (as Tiny Tim), Sidney Dame, Anna Lavelle, Scarlett Mink-Border, and Sam Pfeifer-Winborn on opening night.

David Richwine, Jules Schrader, Karen Ruch, and Brennen Dickerson take the stage as Bob Cratchit/Jacob Marley, Cadence Quill/Past, Pearl Brookton/Present, and Tillman Nightengale/Future. Richwine's Cratchit is one of the best this reviewer has seen. His facial expressions and mannerisms show the audience Cratchit's mixed feelings about his employment situation-the need to keep his job in order to care for his family often conflicting with his feelings about how Scrooge treats him and the lack of time he gets to spend with his family because of his long hours of work. Richwine's Marley is fantastically eerie. Schrader, Ruch, and Dickerson are relatable in their roles as Cadence Quill, Pearl Brookton, and Tillman Nightengale-three of the vendors who owe Scrooge money. They elicit sympathy from the audience as they plead their case for an extension on their debt payment. Their performances as the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future are completely entrancing. These actors all have wonderful chemistry with one another as well as with Nicholas Hughes, who takes on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Nicholas Hughes is phenomenal in his portrayal of Scrooge, taking the audience on the journey from bitter miser to repentant philanthropist. Hughes has a way of making subtle changes in his voice and expression throughout the show to demonstrate Scrooge's transformation.

One of the most mesmerizing aspects of this performance is the way in which all the actors adjust their voices, posture, facial expressions, and movements to embody their characters, and the way those who play multiple characters change those aspects to become someone new. The entire cast and production team of Open Stage's A Christmas Carol deserve a standing ovation for this performance. Get your tickets before it sells out by visiting®id=194&

Photo Credit: Brianna Dow

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