A Christmas Carol – La Jolla Stage Company

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Director Jessica Seaman takes David Wiener’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to a new level of entertainment. The incorporation of classical and traditional music, off-stage narration, and the use of much of the audience space at Torrey Pines Christian Church as a playing area brings this classic up-close and personal. The venue, which has been used by at least one other theatre company, offers an extremely large auditorium and an ample stage area.

Terence J. Burke is Scrooge. As he transitions from an ogre to a kinder version of the old skinflint, Burke is absolutely believable. His voice resonates throughout the hall. Steve Earl Oliver plays put-upon Bob Cratchit, a charming hero to his family.

The Cratchit family, Mrs. Cratchit, Emily, and Martha (Paola Hornbuckle, Mackenzie Yonekura, and Erin Smith) are a delight with less than complimentary feelings about Bob’s boss. Hornbuckle doubles as Mrs. Fezziwig and Yonekura also plays Scrooge as a boy. Micaela Applebaum is the almost silent Tiny Tim; however, as Ghost of Christmas Past she led Scrooge through what was.

Ivan Harrison seemed to have an absolutely joyous time playing the deceased Jacob Marley and the fully hooded man in black, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

No A Christmas Carol is complete without Scrooge’s nephew, Fred (James Graham, who has two other roles) and Fred’s wife, Mary (Paula Berkenstadt) who doubles as Scrooge’s one-time fiancee). She makes a charming partner to both Fred and Scrooge.

Also, with two roles each by father, Brian Terry as Mr. Fezziwig and Man 1, and daughter, Diane Terry, in the roles of Scrooge’s sister Fan and girl. Rounding out the cast are Lizette Kent Allen, James Steinberg, and Tim Waggoner.

This is a fun production. At times a bit uneven, with a bit of inconsistency in accents and a need for just one more tech rehearsal, Director Seaman brought the audience A Christmas Carol that was enjoyable with the added pleasure of some excellent music and some choreographed bits that fit perfectly with the play. Bringing the action into the audience was brilliant, although I was a bit taken aback by a tombstone near my seat. Thanks Ms. Seaman. In the spirit of the season I’ll not say “Bah, humbug!”

The period costumes work well. The versatile set worked well for the major locations, while the auditorium played as other locations, including the aforementioned graveyard. The lighting design created many playing areas. Not only was the music quite nice, the sound effects really enhanced the mood and location.

A Christmas Carol, the first on my schedule, is a well-produced and directed piece. I am certain that the minor glitches will disappear for the rest of the run. For a different take of the Christmas classic, one would do well to see this production.

Cast

Micaela Applebaum, Paula Berkenstadt, Terrence J. Burke, James Graham, Ivan Harrison, Paola Hornbuckle, Lizette Kent, Steve Earl Oliver, Erin Smith, James Steinberg, Brian Terry, Diane Terry, Tim Waggoner, Mackenzie Yonekura

Technical Staff

Choreographer Antonio Cacho, Set Design Jessica Seaman, Lighting Dale Goodman, Sound Skyler Dennon & Jessica Seaman, Costumes Enchanted Attic, Jessica Seaman, & Jane Russell, SM Stephanie Horn, Props Jessica Seaman, Stage Crew Ted Simon & Stephanie Horn

Total Rating: Two Stars

Date Reviewed: December 7, 2007

Dates: Weekends thru December 16, 2007

Genre: Classic

Author: Charles Dickens, Adapted by David Wiener

Director: Jessica Seaman

Running Time: 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission

La Jolla Stage Company

8320 La Jolla Scenic Drive

La Jolla, CA 92037

Box Office Phone: 858 454-7798

Robert Hitchcox is a playwright, critic and fiction author, who reviews live theatre.