BWW Review: Theatre Three's annual showing of Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL
The show is wonderful to begin with; there is no doubt about that. Theatre Three's 35th annual production of the iconic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol has certainly become a beautiful tradition on Long Island. Even with slight changes throughout the years, this ageless production is as spectacular as ever. Jeffrey Sanzel, the Artistic Director of the Port Jefferson venue, directs the dazzling play running through December 29th.
Mr. Sanzel, a pillar of the Long Island theatre community, also stars as our favorite miserable miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. As we know, the story takes place on the night of Christmas Eve through Christmas morning when the... shall we say... frugal Mr. Scrooge is visited by ghosts in an attempt to save his greedy soul from an eternity of shackles and chains. Among the ghosts that visit him are Jacob Marley (Mr. Scrooge's deceased business partner) and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet To Come. Mr. Sanzel's outstanding performance of the role from being crotchety to ultimately finding the Christmas spirit is always inspiring; really the best around.
Also among the cast, Andrew Lenahan, in his Theatre Three debut, is excellent as Jacob Marley. Everything from Marley's appearance to entrance is slightly different from year to year and Mr. Lenahan delivers with thrilling intensity. The Ghost of Christmas Past is strongly portrayed by Michelle LaBozzetta whose powerful and commanding performance is one you will remember for quite some time. Getting the most laughs indeed is Steven T. Wangner who is completely charming as the "cheeky" Ghost of Christmas Present. As for the The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, that costume is operated this year by Theatre Three vet Steven Uihlein. And yes, I said operated. In one of the most elaborate and remarkable of costumes, the faceless undertaker-like ghost stands almost to the top of the stage. Surrounded by fog, a ragged, black wrap drapes around him as he maneuvers back and forth and his arms open brusquely to the sound of thunder as he is taking Scrooge through his potential future. It is really jaw-dropping.
I really could go on and on, but you can probably tell that the entire company is truly extraordinary even with the vast majority of the cast taking on several roles.
On Mr. Sanzel's creative team, Randall Parsons' set is well done. The large stage has concealed sections and rolling pieces that make for seamless scene changes. Well, that and because this production is a well-oiled machine after thirty five years. This is cleverly enhanced by Robert W. Henderson, Jr's atmospheric lighting and Mr. Parsons' stunning costumes. You'll notice the costumes change very slightly from year to year, but you still get that 19th century aura. If you have seen previous productions, you will also notice that music has been added this year, which is a lovely touch.
And so, if you haven't seen this incarnation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in a while - or if you haven't seen at all - just go see it. The classic story and this superb cast will surely get you into the Christmas spirit.
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is presented annually by Theatre Three of Port Jefferson through December 29th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.
By Charles Dickens, Adapted and Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, Original Music & Sound Effects Design by Ellen Michelmore, New Musical Design by William Roslak, Set & Costume Design by Randall Parsons, Lighting & Sound Design by Robert W. Henderson, Jr., Properties Design & Construction by Karin Bagan, Stage Management by Melissa Troxler, Musical Direction by Brad Frey
Starring Jeffrey Sanzel, Julie Friedman, Addyson Urso, Stephen T. Wangner, Douglas J. Quattrock, Sophia Knapp, Heather Rose Kuhn, Nicole Bianco, Eric J. Hughes, Ginger Dalton, Holly D'Accordo, Ellie Dunn, Andrew Lenahan, Michelle LaBozzetta, Jake Hollywood, Alexander Yagud-Wolek, Suzie Dunn, Richard Schindler, Max Venezia, Kiernan Urso, Laura McKevitt, Leah Romero, Kailey D'Accordo, Katie Gudzik, Finn Thomas, Cameron Turner, Steven Uihlein, Alexa Eichinger, and Amber Walkowiak