BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Returns to Sacramento Theatre Company

BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Returns to Sacramento Theatre Company

During the holiday season, many people flock to church to find solace, seek forgiveness, practice introspection, and soak up lessons on how to live their lives. Something about this time of year encourages all of us to examine how we have conducted ourselves the previous 11 months. Theatre has been my church for a long time now, and luckily The Sacramento Theatre Company is there to give me periodic reminders of the values that are important to keep close.

Their season of Fate, Fantasy and Forgiveness enters the holidays with A Christmas Carol, with adaptations and music by Richard Hellesen and David DeBerry. When Charles Dickens' story was first published in 1843, it sold out of its first edition in five days. Dickens was inspired by a visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, which was an establishment for illiterate and destitute children. Dismay at the treatment of these individuals is what prompted him to write a cautionary tale against avarice and apathy.

Unfortunately, with just a change of clothing, we can witness the same conditions now that were present in 19th century England. As director Michael Laun said, if you put a cardboard sign in the hand of the "beggar child", we can see the relevance today. Everyone has experienced the uncomfortable feeling of stopping right next to someone holding a sign at an intersection. If we put a suit on Ebenezer Scrooge, we can see many contemporary leaders. Sadly, they will not be visited by three ghosts who convince them to change their ways. Of the two, apathy may be the worse to allow. Without passion, a voice, and a helping hand, both situations will continue to thrive.

STC's production of A Christmas Carol transports you to 1840's England with an impressively efficient set by Renee DeGarmo and Jarrod Bodensteiner that conveys the dark and melancholy mindset of the poor. Cheerful choreography peppered throughout the show lends a reprieve from the drear, particularly an uplifting dance involving beer steins with the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Michael Jenkinson, the multi-talented choreographer and co-director of this show, also plays Bob Cratchit. He lends an earnest quality to the role and brings a vulnerability and tenderness that suits it well. He is convincingly kind and patient, even when Scrooge insists that "love is more ridiculous than a Merry Christmas." He is someone that you would like to be at your Christmas dinner. I would trade him for some of my guests. (P.S. Michael, the invitation will be forthcoming)

One of the best performances I have ever seen, from anyone in any show, was Matt K. Miller as Ebenezer Scrooge. He is the most likable Scrooge that I have seen, but that makes him more human. I was rooting for Scrooge as the underdog. Funny, anguished, terrified, loving, greedy-Miller effortlessly segued from one scene to another and held me captivated. From hilariously telling Jacob Marley that he must be an undigested bit of beef to the heart-warming resurrection as Tiny Tim's honorary second father, all Scrooges of the future will fall far short of Matt Miller.

A Christmas Carol plays at Sacramento Theatre Company from November 29th-December 24th. Tickets are available in person at the STC Box Office at 1419 H Street, by calling (916) 443-6722, or at sactheatre.org.

Photo Credit: Charr Crail Photography

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