BWW Reviews: GCT's Annual CHRISTMAS CAROL Has a Bright New Look

By: Dec. 03, 2013
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A Christmas Carol/by Charles Dickens/adaptation by Brenda Dietlein/directed by Tim Dietlein/Glendale Centre Theatre (GCT)/through December 24

GCT's all new version of their annual holiday hit A Christmas Carol has Dickens' heartwarming classic story, incorporating the atmosphere, texture and mood of dingy, poverty-stricken London of the 19th century with great set pieces and costumes, music, dance and some pretty amazing special effects. This is a delightfully engaging Christmas present for one and all now through December 24.

Is there anyone who has not come in contact with Dickens' Ebeneezer Scrooge at some point? Whether it be the novel, a film version or the play? Hard to believe, if the answer is no, unless we're talking the newer generation of kids. They may not be familiar and when introduced not as readily scared by Scrooge's greed and sarcasm; they might, in fact, just root for him and his outrageous negativity. But...judging from the audience on opening night, the many teenagers on hand were quiet, well-behaved and enjoying every minute of Daniel Roebuck's terrifically interpretation of Scrooge. In this new version we are introduced first to Dickens (Roebuck) who quickly makes a transition via makeup to Scrooge. In fact, as Dickens he buys an apple from a poor boy on the street, tells him to keep the change and gives him back the apple, which the boy proceeds to give to a homeless man nearby. Two nice acts of charity to start a piece that is laden with aggressively anti-social behavior. All right! Up front we see how people should treat other people, causing more sympathy to Scrooge's victims and a genuine desire for a fast rehabilitation of the man who must learn to arm himself with more kindly ways. Everyone around Scrooge sings and parties, but of course not Scrooge, who persists on his Bah humbug! until he can no longer tolerate what he witnesses when the three spirits show him how he has engendered such unhappiness in himself as well as in others. There are some great effects used in the storytelling, especially when Jacob Marley (Shawn Cahill) makes his entrance from the portrait hanging on Scrooge's wall, as well as the dizzying vision Scrooge sees of Marley on his front door.

Under Tim Dietlein's evenly paced direction, the entire 35-member ensemble are superb with Roebuck leading the way in an full-out remarkable performance. His reactions are big, as they should be and his transformation from miserly to philanthropic deliciously, but still within the realm of credibility. Others worthy of note are Kelly Flynn as Cratchit, Shea Taylor as Scrooge's nephew Fred, Brenda Dietlein as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Tim Dietlein - in a wonderfully surprising entrance - as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Jaymes Dietlein steals the scene as cute, adorable Tiny Tim. Everyone is great, singing and dancing in Angela Wood's beautiful costumes in front of Nathan J. Milisavljevich's realistic looking set pieces of old England. Brenda Dietlein's adaptation is smooth in its transitions and works to the max.

Don't miss this Christmas Carol, even if you have opportunities to see other versions. The music, the cast, the colorful costuming, the new touches in the script particularly the creative special effects add appealing pluses to make this one of the most colorful productions in town. And...bring the kiddies!


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