BWW Reviews: Stockton Civic Presents A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Stockton Civic Theatre has plenty of Christmas cheer to offer at its production of the Alan Menken version of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Cast members greet audiences with smiles, some selling raffle tickets to benefit the theatre's programs before the show, most chatting with friends in the lobby after the show. It's a family atmosphere that any local should be happy to support.

The current holiday production features perfect period costumes by Cathy Hastings and Kathie Dixon set against a sparse, but functional grey set by Carol Barry. The ghosts that visit the money-hoarding Scrooge each have something unique or fun about them. Vince Peralta, the strongest talent of the cast, gleefully flies across the stage as the ballet-inspired Ghost of Christmas Past. Jess Beltran shoots confetti out of his red and green staff as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Melissa Esau's Ghost of Christmas Future sheds a black cloak to reveal a beautiful woman with a wraithlike face. Shawn J. Carrington's ghost of Jacob Marley proclaims the spirits' coming as he enters out of a trap door, bringing with him a grave stone and a host of other eerie creatures.

The ensemble are lively spirits in themselves, especially during Jennifer Hasting's impressive dance numbers, but at times they need more practice in blending vocally and projecting when cracking microphones (or lack of microphones) make them difficult to hear over the very loud music. At Saturdaynight's performance, about 50 percent of the lyrics (the show is all singing) were impossible to understand.

Menken's creation possesses several memorable melodies made famous by both Menken's reputation as a Disney film composer and by the television film adaptation of his musical, which played in New York City for a decade. But the show's pre-recorded track moves quickly, demanding precision in timing and energy in performance, both of which lacked a certain finesse during scenes without choreography. The cast barreled through the material. Scott Minor did a wonderful job with what little the fast paced-material allowed, making Scrooge relatable and likeable, and each cast member seemed very talented on their own terms. The children were especially adorable, including the young Rachel Foley, who has a short, but gorgeous solo in the first portion of the hour and a half (no intermission) production. But the direction, speed and technical problems took away from any chance of the cast fully shining, and overall the production just needed more practice. The show is good quality for community theatre, but does not live up to standards set by Stockton Civic's previous productions.

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Stockton Civic Theatre
Through December 8
http://sctlivetheatre.com/

Photo Credit: George Hong



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