BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Warms Hearts and Reminds that Giving > Receiving
Based on the classic Charles Dickens novel, the Nebraska Theatre Caravan's touring production of the musical A Christmas Carol opened for this weekend only on December 6 at The Fox. It is the moving tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, whose devotion to his money interferes with his ability to make meaningful human connections. He survives as a mostly-isolated contrarian until the ghost of his long-time business partner Jacob Marley, dead seven years now, shows up, promising visits from three spirits in the hours to come. If only Scrooge could learn from Marley's mistakes Marley says, he could be given a difference chance at fate. "No space of regret," Marley tells him, "can make amends for one's life opportunity misused." Revealing Christmases past, Christmas present, and Christmases yet to come, these spirits guide Scrooge through many scenarios wherein Scrooge is an invisible eavesdropper, until Scrooge realizes the error of his ways and transforms into a kinder, more giving member of the community.
The story itself, set in 1886, is a bit old-fashioned, and may be most appreciated by adult audiences, however, it is a classic that everyone should read and see at least once. This production makes fascinating use of long, quiet moments onstage - the show slows way down at times, actors (and Andy Harvey as Scrooge in particular) making precise choices that require the audience's full attention.
The songs in this musical are traditional Christmas carols, familiar and reminiscent of days gone by, featuring beautiful harmonies. Stephen Merritt directs the music which sounds simply magical at times, with magnificent flute, clarinet, and bassoon/French horn work by Christina Cruder, Beth Sandholm, and Nyketa DiCesare, respectively.
While this cast makes for a very strong ensemble, Harvey is a splendid Scrooge, brooding and boiling, but also making subtle choices that gently contribute to his character's transformation. Kristin Conrad makes a stunning Christmas Past, graceful and glitzy in her work on Scrooge, and Blake Fountain is a hoot as Christmas Present, his contagious laugh reenergizing the entire second half of the show. Kudos also to Annabelle Dewater as Tiny Tim, whose sweet voice fills the space and reminds us all how wonderful 'tis to join in the season of giving.
Showcasing stunning Victorian dresses including bustles, hoop skirts, and rich fabrics, Kimberly Stark's costumes are a feast for the eyes. The 3-D scenery includes lots of elaborately picturesque moving pieces, layered sets, and even falling snow.
I think you'll enjoy this classic this weekend only in the beautiful Fox Theatre. If nothing else, perhaps you'll be reminded that, "The present is fading. Seize it. Love it."
Nebraska Theatre Caravan's 40th Anniversary production of A Christmas Carol plays through Sunday, December 9 at The Fox. For tickets or more information: https://www.fabulousfox.com/events/detail/christmas-carol