Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Theatre Three

The play runs through December 30th.

By: Dec. 10, 2023
Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Theatre Three
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This production is wonderful to begin with; there is no doubt about that. Theatre Three's 39th annual production of the iconic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol has certainly become a beautiful tradition on Long Island. Even with the slight changes throughout the years, this ageless production is as spectacular as ever. Jeffrey Sanzel, the Artistic Director of the beautiful Port Jefferson venue, directs the dazzling play running through December 30th kicking off their thrilling 53rd season.

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 three 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, Theatre Three regular Steven Uihlein is excellent as Jacob Marley. Everything from Marley's appearance to entrance is slightly different from year to year and Mr. Uihlein delivers with thrilling intensity. The Ghost of Christmas Past is strongly portrayed by Cassidy Rose O'Brien 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 Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, that costume is operated this year by Theatre Three vet Sean Amato. 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 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 (and on and on) about the extraordinary cast, but you can probably tell that the entire company is truly extraordinary with the vast majority of the hard-working cast taking on several roles each.

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 also because this production is a well-oiled machine after thirty nine years. This is cleverly enhanced by Robert W. Henderson, Jr's atmospheric lighting and sound design and the stunning costumes done by Mr. Parsons and Jason Allyn. 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 some music has been added which is a lovely touch.

And so, if you haven't seen Theatre Three's incarnation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in a while - or if you haven't seen at all - go see it. And perhaps it could be a new tradition with your loved ones. The classic story and this superb cast will surely get you into the Holiday spirit.

Photo by Steve Ayle


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