A Christmas Carol

by Christopher Verleger

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday December 8, 2008

A scene from Trinity Rep’s "A Christmas Carol."
A scene from Trinity Rep’s "A Christmas Carol."  (Source:Mark Turek)

Trinity Rep's A Christmas Carol, a Rhode Island holiday tradition for more than three decades, has continuously charmed audiences throughout New England, and this year's delightfully ghoulish edition, directed by Trinity Rep Conservatory alum, Liesl Tommy, is no exception.

The Charles Dickens' classic tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Mauro Hantman, of the Holly Cast), a lonely, jaded London businessman with a vehement hatred of all things jolly, whose name is synonymous with one who loathes the sentiment of the yuletide season. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley (Russ Salmon), who warns him of impending danger. Soon after Marley disappears, Scrooge is invited on a spiritual journey to revisit his youth, examine the present day and glimpse his future, accompanied by the ghosts of Christmases Past (Anne Scurria), Present (Robert Casey, Jr.) and Future. Scrooge awakens from his walk through time with a new, positive outlook on life, determined to make things right and prevent a series of unfortunate events that will otherwise come to fruition if he doesn't change his ways.

There is endless activity on the stage throughout the production, which makes it nearly impossible to turn away for even a second. Marley's ghost glides across Scrooge's levitating bed, Christmas Past rises from beneath the stage, and Christmas Present makes his entrance on a vintage bicycle with wings. Another haunting figure, the Reader (Rachael Warren), remains in the background for almost the entire show, all the while keeping a watchful eye on Scrooge.

The cast, which features six select children (from a total of 24 young Rhode Island performers) and three musicians (Steve Job, Rachel Maloney, Chris Turner), breaks out in song to the holiday classic, Sleigh Ride, and several other tunes during the show's 90-minute running time.

Ron Cesario's costumes perfectly reflect mid-nineteenth century London, but with an essential splash of the colors red, green and gold that define the yuletide season. The ghosts are clothed in outfits that range from zany (Christmas Present) to gaudy (Christmas Past) to trippy (Marley).

Hantman's resemblance to the everyman makes for an especially likable Scrooge and each of the ghosts display remarkable stage presence. Supporting players who deliver noteworthy performances are Michael Propster as Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's saintly employee, and Trinity Rep vet Fred Sullivan, Jr. who takes on several roles, including shop owner, Fezziwig.

Trinity Rep's 32nd annual production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is an exciting, spooky interpretation of a timeless classic.

A Christmas Carol runs through December 31 at Trinity Rep, 201 Washington Street, Providence. For tickets and showtimes, visit www.trinityrep.com for more information.

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.