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Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS at Iowa Stage: A New Production Takes to the Stage

A Christmas Carol
Cast of "A Christmas Carol"
Photo by Joe Crimmings

Everyone loves a good ghost story. Usually, these stories have been reserved for around a campfire or Halloween. So why would someone tell a ghost story around the holidays? Iowa Stage is telling us this in their production, which opens today "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas." While the tradition of "A Christmas Carol" each year came from the Repertoire Theatre of Iowa, Iowa Stage is continuing the tradition. With the move to a new performance space this season, they have taken a chance on a new version of the story.

This version of "A Christmas Carol" still centers around the story of miser Ebenezer Scrooge. In version, there is more focus on the ghost of the story and how they help Scrooge turn his miserly ways around. The ghosts appear throughout the show in multiple ways, from the dancing apparitions, to Scrooge's maid, to peddlers on the streets of London. I don't want to say which ghost plays which additional character as it would ruin part of the fun of the show.

A Christmas Carol
James Serpento as Ms. Dilber
Richard Maynard as Scrooge
Photo by Joe Crimmings

One of the joys of moving to a new space is that it forces a theatre to reimagine how they perform shows. Iowa Stage has taken that challenge to heart this season. One of these places is in the breathtaking set designed by Jay Jagrim. Coming into the theatre, I was in awe of the hand-drawn wall that seemed to be at the back of the theatre. As actors started making their entrances, I was in awe of how much more intricate the set was. What was fun was seeing all the different ways the actors could enter through the set. I won't explain what they do, but my jaw dropped in amazement when the ghost of Marley entered.

The ghostly apparitions are brought to life by Zoe Murphy, Maggie Schmitt, and Heather Stout. Each of them does a tremendous job with the choreography provided by Megan Helmers. They were a tremendous asset to the show, as their movement allowed the show to transfer from scene to scene smoothly. The ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, portrayed by Donna Scarfe, Shawn Wilson, and Ethan Seiser, delight the audience as well. Each of them brings a unique flavor to each of these well-known characters.

A Christmas Carol
James Serpento as Jacob Marley
Maggie Schmitt as Ghostly Apparitions
Zoe Murphy as Ghostly Apparitions
Heather Stout as Ghostly Apparitions
Photo by Joe Crimmings

The most well-known ghost from "A Christmas Carol," Jacob Marly, portrayed by James Serpento, was one of my favorite interpretations of the role I have seen. He brought humor to the character that I wasn't expecting. The humor never took away from the gravity of Scrooge's situation. James was also a big part of making Marley's first entrance jaw-dropping. His gravel voice was a perfect and haunting fit for Marley.

Richard Maynard is appearing again this season in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. His Scrooge takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotions as he goes through each ghostly visit. We see him giddy as he revisits his childhood memories, mindful of the present, and mournful about what could be his and Tiny Tim's future. His Scrooge will be one you won't soon forget.

If you are looking for a show that will remind you of the magic of the holidays, then head to Iowa Stage to see "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas." From the beautiful sets to the phenomenal cast, this telling of a Christmas favorite will put the most miserly person in the holiday spirit. Tickets for opening weekend are already selling out. Make sure you get your tickets ASAP as you won't want to be haunted for missing this show. To find out more about Iowa Stage, or to purchase tickets to the show, visit https://www.iowastage.org/a-christmas-carol-2019

A Christmas Carol
Madison Morain as Solicitor
Richard Maynard as Ebenezer Scrooge
John Audlehelm as Solicitor
Photo by Joe Crimmings

Review written by DC Felton
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From This Author - DC Felton

David Felton has been involved in theatre since his middle school production of The Wizard of Oz. Throughout high school he stayed onstage, and once he got to college he started exploring thebackstage... (read more about this author)


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