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BWW Review: Lyric's A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Classic Christmas Fare

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Lyric's outdoor, immersive production of A Christmas Carol is beautifully staged at the Harn Homestead.

BWW Review: Lyric's A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Classic Christmas Fare

In the wake of the (still, ongoing) COVID pandemic, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma found innovative ways to produce live theatre. One tradition that seems to be sticking for the time being is their outdoor, immersive production of A Christmas Carol. For nine years, the production ran at Lyric's Plaza Theatre, and since 2020, they've adapted it for a non-traditional walk through experience. This new production is performed at the Harn Homestead, a beautiful outdoor museum located on the doorstep of the Oklahoma Capitol building. Now in its eleventh year, Lyric's A Christmas Carol is classically Dickens, Victorian Christmas at its finest, and it's simply beautiful theatre.

The show is double cast, with the Holly Cast reviewed on opening night. The Holly Cast includes Jonathan Beck Reed as Scrooge, Matthew Alvin Brown as Narrator and Scrooge's nephew Fred, Mariah Warren as Narrator and Mrs. Fezziwig, Susan Riley as Mrs. Cratchit, Kaylene Snarsky as Belle, Emily J. Pace as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Fred's Wife, Caleb Barnett as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Charlie Monnot as Bob Cratchit. Andi Dema is Young Scrooge and Topper, and Jason Bias is Marley and Fezziwig. The principal roles are filled by some of Oklahoma City's finest and most well-known performers, and they blend well with the students and new faces who are cast in the children's roles.

These younger performers play school children and students in Victorian London, mastering difficult accents and costumes in the already harsh Oklahoma wind. They work hard and deserve a mention in a professional review. The children's cast includes Kiara Tournear, Charlee Barks, and Saxon Neal. Audience Hosts/ Lamp Lighters lead the audience throughout the journey. For the Holly Cast, they're Carter Haney, Crayton Haney, Abigail Ruth Manners, and Selena Simmons.

Reed, Brown, Riley and Monnot are the four remaining original cast members for all eleven years of this production. Their roles have changed throughout the years, but they're all adaptable as performers and fit in seamlessly with the changes. Jonathan Beck Reed is a legend in his own right, and to see him playing this redemptive role is awe-inspiring. Brown is solid as usual, and his turn as Scrooge's hopeful nephew Fred is a nice transition for him. Brown and Warren as Narrators are playful with each other and welcoming to the outdoor audience.

Susan Riley and Charlie Monnot together as Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit are just perfection, and it wouldn't be Christmas in Oklahoma City without this duo. This is one casting decision that hopefully never changes. Pace is bouncy and mischievous as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and she brings a quirky, elfish quality to the role.

Barnett is jovial, booming, and boisterous, all that you'd expect from the Ghost of Christmas Present. His take on this role, however, adds an extra bit of personality. Barnett always takes iconic roles (that could easily read as boring and flat) and turns them on their head, adding a bit of magic and charm that is his and his alone. Snarsky is lovely as Belle, giving the story an element of heartbreak. Dema is both hopeful and devastating as Young Scrooge, then charming and awkward as Topper. Bias is aptly terrifying as Marley, then promptly heartwarming as Scrooge's old boss Fezziwig.

A Christmas Carol reminds us to keep Christmas in our hearts all year, look after the less fortunate, and to be generous and loving in our day to day interactions. But it's also a subtle, yet profound, call to look at our own lives. How lucky is Scrooge to receive this gift from the spirit world. He can take a look at his life, see his own failings, and correct them before it's too late. This is the real, relevant point of A Christmas Carol. And it's truly what Charles Dickens wanted the readers to do when he wrote the novella.

This world is divided. Politically, we can't agree. Socially, we are at each other's throats. We're unfriending, ghosting, and blocking each other at rates never seen before this pandemic. Like Scrooge is forced to do, we should all look inward and remember who we are, and why we walk this earth. Are we here to build chains, link by link and yard by yard, and carry them around with us, into the afterlife? What has this isolation, this quarantining, this determination to be right, cost us? As the regretful Marley says, mankind is our business. Charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence. Friendship. That is the Spirit of Christmas, and the hope that is restored in Scrooge. It's Christmas. Let's keep it in our hearts, and not shut out its teachings.

Lyric Theatre's beautiful outdoor production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol runs until December 23rd at the historic Harn Homestead, located at 1721 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105. Tickets are available at lyrictheatreokc.com.


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