DCTC presents A Christmas Carol, the definitive Christmas story. Whether you prefer Alastair Sim, Jim Carey, or Michael Caine as Scrooge, everyone gets inevitably wrapped up in Scrooge’s transformation from a cold-hearter miser to generous Christmas-lover. The story includes the haunting presence of four ghosts, and conveys the timeless and classless message that Christmas is a time for family, celebration, and appreciation. Furthermore, the story is a reminder to prioritize our fellow man over our pocketbooks, all throughout the year. This version, thought not technically considered a musical, features full-length period-appropriate songs throughout.
Traditional Adaptation Makes ‘Carol’ Done Right
HE SAID: If you took the Arvada Center version (CRITIQUE HERE) and the Colorado Shakes version (CRITIQUE HERE) and mashed them together you would end up with the DCTC production. Though not technically a musical, the songs did add a lot to the spirit of the piece, especially since the sound fit the story. In this adaptation, I still felt that there was too much narration and often times that left people on stage, lingering in the background, when they did not need to be there. However, the narration tapered off and more of the story was allowed to be performed – and performed well.
SHE SAID: I really enjoyed this adaptation of the story. The songs were period-appropriate and pleasant. If they had been performed with less skill, they might have dragged down the pace of the story, but luckily they were delightful! I think it really speaks to the strength of the piece that it was our third time at A Christmas Carol in two weeks and probably enjoyed this one most of all. Director Bruce K. Sevy had the overall tone of the piece spot on — a warm community coming together to tell an important Christmas story.
Large Ensemble Finds Heart in Familiar Characters
HE SAID: This is probably the largest ensemble we have seen at the Denver Center Theatre Company so far this season, and they really have gathered a great bunch of talent. Philip Pleasants as Scrooge is wonderful, which is no surprise since he has played it for many seasons already. Also fantastic were the four ghosts (including Mike Hartman’s amazingly spooky turn as Marley), but perhaps the one that I appreciated most was Larry Bull as the Christmas Present. The character is really complex given that he has to embody the joy of Christmas day, yet also bare a darker side as he uses Scrooge’s words to make points. Bull managed to do find the duality very well.
SHE SAID: Pleasants as Scrooge was just delightful to watch. I really enjoyed his performance, as well as the honest performance of Jim Reilly as Bob Cratchit. Also worth mentioned was Linda Mugleston as the hilarious Mrs. Fezziwig. The ensemble were delightfully varied and energetic, and the children in this production gave my favorite performances of the children we’ve seen in a variety of holiday shows this season.
Design Elements Live Up to the Magic of Christmas
HE SAID: For the first time this year the Jacob Marley scene reached the level of fear that should fill the scene, and while a good deal of that had to do with the superb acting of Pleasants and Bull as Scrooge and Marley respectively, a lot of that had to do with the technical elements. In fact, Marley’s entrance surprised the entire entire audience so much, it stopped the show for a round of applause. It was a terriffic moment. His costume was spectacular and the sound of his chains was chilling. As small a detail as that may seem, his chains are actually an important part of the scene so I am glad they emphasized them.
SHE SAID: The design elements for this production were up to the high standard that I’ve come to expect from DCTC. The costumes (by Kevin Copenhaver) and wigs were lovely (although I did note that Belle’s ball gown seemed a bit out of place, which might have been so to serve her quick change afterward). The scenic design (by Vicki Smith) was impressive, with plenty of tricks and effects. The two levels upstage were used cleverly for the most part, although I didn’t prefer the large cast crowding on them at the end of Act I. One thing that seemed out of place were the cartoon-like items that decorated the proscenium arch, which seemed out of place with the rest of the design.
DCTC Offers Definitive Version of Definitive Christmas Story
THEY SAID: With so many options, it may be hard to choose which production to see this year. Furthermore, everyone is making the decision harder by offering such wonderful shows in their own right. Well, the Denver Center Theatre Company has made a strong case for why you should make their version of A Christmas Carol the one you see this year by offering terriffic performances, music, and design elements that are both beautiful and surprising. This production steers clear of any hint of experimentalism or modernization, and delivers a commendable, traditional, but still magical version of this Christmas classic.
For a full plot synopsis and history of A Christmas Carol, see the wikipedia article. A Christmas Carol presented by Denver Center Theatre Company plays through December 24 at The Stage Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Click the banner below for tickets and more information.