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BWW Reviews: CHRISTMAS CAROL at Center Rep The Best Around


The most Scrooge among us would crack a smile at Center Rep's "A Christmas Carol."

Although the old miser may balk at the cost of extravagant special affects and lovely costumes, or even at the time-honored message of hope and love, it's impossible to avoid laughing when the unseen Ghost of Christmas Present knocks a cup of punch from an overconfident young man's hand. Or consider the confetti that shoots out into the audience and the snow that gently falls down to cheerful faces.

As the cranky, money-pinching, inconsiderate, unloving man, Mark Anderson Phillips still manages to amuse audiences with his mocking of Christmas pleasures and the occasional "bah humbug." Phillips alone is worth the cost of admission with his priceless facial expressions and growing glow. At show's beginning, Phillips wears white-washed makeup and all-black attire, and he walks with a crooked step. By finale, he blushes with scatterbrained delight. Unsure of what to do with his new joy, Scrooge flies into the streets, giving out presents and exchanging his humbugs for "Merry Christmas."

The wonders never stop, made new every year by the sheer genius of unique special effects and flawless casts. A haunting Jacob Marley (Jeff Draper) makes an unnerving entrance, unable to rest as demon-like characters pull at his chains, a reminder of his burden to wander the world for eternity. Spirits shoot across the stage. A jovial Ghost of Christmas Present (Michael Ray Wisely) sparkles and glitters and literally flies into the night. And, thanks to some clever black lighting, the stage makes a sudden change in appearance for the Ghost of Christmas Future. Ken Ruta provides his usual perfect narration straight from the original Charles Dickens classic, and a lovely quartet helps set the mood with several traditional Christmas carols.

No expense is wasted in this production, and everyone may profit by it, even Ebenezer Scrooge.


Center REP
Through December 22
At the Lesher Center for the Arts

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From This Author Harmony Wheeler