BWW Reviews: Playhouse Merced Presents One of the Best Carols Around with CHRISTMAS CAROL

BWW Reviews: Playhouse Merced Presents One of the Best Carols Around with CHRISTMAS CAROL

For one of the best Ebenezer Scrooges you're ever likely to see on stage, make a stop in Merced, CA. For a most enjoyable version of Charles Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol," visit Playhouse Merced's intimate and friendly theatre. The company's current production of Keith Ferguson and Bruce Green's version of the ghostly holiday tale features memorable new music mixed with well known carols. Led by a perfect dose of narration from Trevor Blondin and Chelsea King, this version pulls much from Dickens' own words.

Old, miserly Scrooge still hoards his money seven years after his partner Jacob Marley's Death. But one Christmas Eve, Marley's ghost and three Christmas ghosts visit the aging man to teach him the true joy of Christmas and a refreshingly traditional Christian message of love and charity, good will for all men.

Dusty Guthier makes a fantastic Scrooge. He adorns incredibly realistic prosthetic makeup and endows his character with wonderful facial expressions. Guthier's reactions make each ghost believable despite limited special effects. The action appears to unfold within Scrooge's small living space, where dramatic lighting by Rob Hypes peeks through cracks in floor boards and each ghost leads Scrooge through past, present and future Christmases.

The ghosts and ensemble feature lovely, colorful costumes (by Dianne Kocher and Cindy Strauss), including an eery Ghost of Christmas Future with piercing eyes. The beautiful Bethany Blondin as the Ghost of Christmas Past wears a draping white dress and speaks with regal comfort and authority. An extroverted Jesse Stofle as the Ghost of Christmas Present wears a bright red and green attire with puffy sleeves and a short cape of sorts. And Renny Doser carries chains as Jacob Marley. Doser's Marley is not so much foreboding as he is deeply mournful, and he brings with him the best vocals of the cast. Other standouts include adorable children, Jake Nelson as Ebenezer's cheerful and optimistic nephew Fred and the very talented Meganne Ward-Kocher as Ebenezer's lost love Belle, both of whom have lovely solos throughout the show.

As a whole, solo vocals are rough around the edges, but hold much potential for growing careers on stage. And the chorus blends marvelously during energetic ensemble numbers in front of Noble Dinse's gorgeous scenic design.

Sandra Dinse' directs the musical, making great use of a small space and a large, talented cast. Audience members leave with huge smiles on their faces.

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Playhouse Merced
Through December 15
http://www.playhousemerced.com/




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From This Author Harmony Wheeler

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