BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Brings the Magic of the Season to Sacramento Theatre Company
One of my favorite holiday traditions is going to the theatre to see shows that celebrate the magic of the season. For the past three years, I've been fortunate enough to experience that with the Sacramento Theatre Company (STC) and their unique production of A Christmas Carol. This adaptation was written over 30 years ago for STC by Richard Hellesen and David DeBerry and still delights with its festive music and timeless message from Charles Dickens.
When Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol over 175 years ago, it was to serve as a cautionary tale against avarice and apathy. Indeed, it struck such a chord that its first edition sold out in just five days. Unfortunately, it seems that we need this reminder in the present day, as well. Corporations, politicians, and even the person looking upon their homeless neighbor in disgust would do well to take Dickens' lesson to heart.
Matt K. Miller joins the cast for the eighth time as Ebenezer Scrooge, a role that he slips into so easily that it is like watching a dear friend that you know will always deliver. He is heartwarming, hilarious, vile, and vulnerable all wrapped up in a lovably grumpy package that embodies all that is Christmas. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is skillfully played by Mike DiSalvo, who had some big shoes to fill in the absence of previous years' Cratchit, Michael Jenkinson. Luckily for us, DiSalvo brings the same vitality that he wowed us with in this season's Northanger Abbey. Returning with his golden voice as Fred, Scrooge's nephew, is Tim Stewart. Fred regales us with music and memories and so much merriment that even the Grinchiest of Scrooges would be hard-pressed to resist the Christmas spirit.
Wrapping up this perfect Christmas package is the power of a large ensemble, as evidenced in the lively numbers choreographed by co-director Miranda D. Lawson. Music director David Taylor Gomes (composer of the acclaimed new musical, Ranked) ties it all in with beautiful arrangements by David DeBerry such as "Wassail" and "The Hearty, the True, and the Bold." Scenic designers Jarrod Bodensteiner and Renee DeGarmo successfully transport us to London in the dreary dead of winter, when it is easy to let the cold feed despair and the hopefulness of spring seems too far away to imagine.
STC's A Christmas Carol is well-worn like a favorite slipper. Comfortable, constant, and molded just the way you like it. A yearly dose of reflection is included, along with the impetus you may need to try just a little harder to be grateful for what you have and perhaps even extend some generosity. For, as our deliciously creepy Jacob Marley (Eric Wheeler) says, "Do you know the weight and length of the chain you bear yourself?"
A Christmas Carol plays at Sacramento Theatre Company through December 29. Tickets may be purchased at the box office at 1419 H Street, Sacramento, or by calling (916) 443-6722. More information may be found at www.sactheatre.org.
Photo credit: Cindy Lawton Photography