BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Spencer Theatre is A Wonderful Gift For the Whole Family
"Phenomenal" is how one theatergoer, Elaine Jacobs, described the opening night of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, now a Kansas City tradition in its 39th year. Presented by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre the Charles Dickens classic opened Saturday, November 30 at the Spencer Theatre on the University of Missouri at Kansas City campus and runs through December 29.
Each time I see the magnificent holiday production I ask myself how they could possibly make it better and the next year I am happily reminded they always find a way. Whether it is the set design, reinvention of costumes for the ghosts, or the dialogue, among many other possible aspects the show is always different in some way than the year before, and remarkably slightly better than previous performances. Personally, I can't wait to see what they do for 2020 the 40th anniversary. I can't imagine what they can do to make it better, but I know they will.
From the direction by Jason Chanos (making his directing debut), or music director and conductor Anthony T. Edwards, the scenic design by John Ezell, the lighting and projections by Jason H. Thompson and Kaitlyn Pietras to the costume design by Emily Stovall every aspect of the production is completed to near perfection. Two interesting notes in reference to the costumes, Gayla Voss, the KCRep's costume shop manager, has been responsible for creating, maintaining, and updating the 60 costumes for each of the previous 38 performances. This is the last performance as she retires in December. This year the UMKC MFA theatrical students designed the spectacular costumes for each of the Christmas ghosts.
Almost everyone knows A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge's transformation from a penny-pinching, lonely, grouchy old man to one who embraces the holiday spirit and everyone around him. Gary Neal Johnson makes his 19th appearance as Ebenezer and has been a part of the A CHRISTMAS CAROL productions for 37 years. His looks, movements, actions, and voice bring Scrooge alive in a way that it would be hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
Other outstanding performances among the 40 cast members: Vanessa Severo as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Taylor Harlow as the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come, Matt Rapport as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Walter Coppage as the Storyteller, Jake Walker as Bob Cratchit, and John Rensenhouse as Mr. Fezziwig and Old Joe. The KCRep did a superb job of filling the stage with some of the finest performers in Kansas City, but these six actors and Johnson gave life to characters that will be hard to forget.
Give the whole family a gift they can carry throughout the season, the memory of A CHRISTMAS CAROL which continues at the Spencer Theatre through December 29th. To purchase tickets online go to www.kcrep.com.
Photos courtesy of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre