This year’s ghostly performance of Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol” at Harlequin Productions was adapted for the stage by Harlequin Artistic Director Aaron Lamb, who also directs it and plays various roles.
“A story about redemption is fundamentally a story about hope,” Lamb says. “And forgiveness. May you too find ghosts that change you for the better this holiday season.”
Every Christmas season sees version after version, including many musical versions and many that are overly elaborate with a focus on overly sensational ghosts and over-the-top special effects.
This production places the emphasis on what Dickens intended to highlight and hopefully influence for the betterment of all: the horrible financial inequality in mid-19th century England, the greed of the wealthy few and the deathly poverty of the many.
Yes, Ebenezer Scrooge (Terry Edward Moore*) is incredibly hard-hearted and cruel, but not because he is inherently evil; but because life has beaten him down. The ghosts —his former partner in business, Jacob Marley (Lamb), the Spirit of Christmas Present (Corey McDaniel), the Spirit of Christmas Past (Jana Tyrell), and the Spirit of Christmas Future (Eleanore Rose Kinn) — appear not to scare him out of his wits but to bring out his true and better self, to keep Christmas in his heart.
There are plenty of special effects: roiling thunder, clouds and fog, but they are realistic and not overblown (although perhaps a tad overdone on the fog).
The acting throughout is spectacular and never overplayed. Moore plays Scrooge as a believable and realistic man who is, yes, stingy and sarcastic. Kinn in the role of Little Fan is loveable. (She and Twana Beedle alternate in the roles of Fan, Martha Cratchit/Turkey Boy, and others.) Xander Layden as Scrooge’s nephew Fred and in other roles is outstanding. He and Lamb, perhaps more so than any of the other actors, display wide-ranging talents in the guise of their many different characters.
Helen Harvester warrants special recognition for her choreography in a joyful scene of townspeople singing and dancing. Kudos to Darren Mills and Melanie Ransom for outstanding costume design, Olivia Burlingame, Keith Jewel and Gina Salerno for lighting and sound, and John Serembe for designing the wonderful period video projections.
* Member of the Actor’s Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
“A Christmas Carol” runs 90 minutes including a 20-minute intermission.
Masks are no longer required but are highly recommended.
Art by Becky Knold
Like a collection of elegant and mysterious religious icons dug up from a newly discovered ancient civilization, Becky Knold’s mixed-media scrolls on display in the lobby during the run of “A Christmas Carol” evoke the balance of light and dark, goodness and evil, with their contrasts and harmonies of non-traditional form and media. They are constructed/painted with tar and many other media on tarpaper — re-cycled posters and art papers, acrylic, oil, and spray paints, metallic pigments and powders, hand-painted papers for collage elements, wood laminate, used metal sanding discs, sandpaper, assorted found fabric, string, wire, and more. Each scroll has a glowing disc at the top with strips of painted and troweled layering of paint below. These paintings are the apotheosis and culmination (so far) of Knold’s art over the past few decades.
There will be an artist’s reception in the lobby Sunday, Dec. 11 from noon to 1 p.m. Learn more about Knold’s art here. http://harlequinproductions.org/2022/11/16/meet-becky-knold-featured-artist-for-a-christmas-carol/
A Christmas Carol
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday through Dec. 24
Harlequin Production’s State Theater, 202 4th Avenue East, Olympia
$49 • senior/military $45 • student/youth $25
Rush tickets and pay-what-you-choose available.
“A Christmas Carol“ photographs by Shanna Paxton Photography.