Looking for a more traditional production to start off your Christmas holidays? There is no better way than with a quaint and heartwarming tale of Christmas redemption! Watching the classic story of the visitation of Ebenezer Scrooge by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future is an easy start to your holiday season. The Arts Barn, in the Kentlands, lends its facility to the Montgomery Playhouse for their endearing and captivating performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
This tale of the conversion of Scrooge from a nasty, miserly, curmudgeon to a grateful and joyful being – full of Christmas spirit, is true to the Dickens story. However, this production of the classic is engaging, imaginative, and fun for the entire family. Traditional takes on this tale can often be dour and dark, but this version has a playful spirit which the cast uses to engage the audience. The Arts Barn theater is an intimate 99-seat facility with action and scenes taking full advantage of the theater space.
The play starts with the gathering of the townsfolk recanting the narrative of Scrooge and setting up the story. I found the use of the full cast to start the story off to be inventive and embracing. At the same time, Ebenezer Scrooge (a heartfelt and assertive ‘bah! Humbug-filled performance by Glenn Evans) makes snide remarks and speaks to audience members as he paces the theater. He grabs you right away and never lets go.
The cast members are marvelous and glowing. Jacob Marley (John Sadowsky) is as unnerving as any Halloween spook. The ghost of Christmas past (Nicolette Stearns) and Belle (Taylor Payne) are ethereal and magical in their roles of reminding Scrooge (young Scrooge is Arden Moscati) of both the joyous and sorrowful times in Christmas past. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig (Fred Nelson and Mary Wakefield) reflect the joy of simple Christmas celebrations.
The second act presents the present times and the Crachit family. Steven Kirkpatrick, Danny Tobin, Maggie Tobin, and Liam Tobin personify the esteemed family that is indebted and beholden to Scrooge. The spirit of Christmas future (Matthew Tobin) casts an eerie and haunting proposal to Scrooge, if he should choose not to reform his ways.
Producer Mary Wakefield and Director John Dickson Wakefield allow the tale to be more of a fun-filled story, rather than the stern, preachy lecture of many versions. Sound effects and special effects (team of Timothy Shaw, Patrick Hughes, and John Decker) are especially key and magical in this production. Costuming (Mary Wakefield) and Makeup/Hair (Archibald Dullard and Nigel Cribbins) lend a period authenticity but imparted fun elements of color, holiday “accessories,” or a certain “cherubic” effect. The play is quickly paced and family friendly.
For a classic turn to your Christmas, this is a fun and economical way to see a great production of the classic Dickens tale. This is the traditional tale told in a delightful manner.