If you are feeling down, pragmatic, and humbuggy about the holidays- here is a guaranteed way to turn that frown upside down. The feel good hit, back for another season, is playing now through December 23rd at the breathtaking theater on Calvert street.
Greg Burgess reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge- and you know the story- a tight-wad is shown the error of his ways by three spirits, then recants and becomes a generous man by the end of the play. There are a few minor twists and turns than the usual production. This adaptation was done by Ian Gallanar, and focuses the play in Baltimore, which, fun fact in my program, Dickens visited in 1842. There is some inclusion of timely comedic offerings, like Kathryne Daniels inclusion of “fake news,” and references to landmarks around the town.
And I would be remiss but to mention a few of the standouts from the evening, although the entire cast is enormously talented. Elliott Kashner as Fred was wonderful and jovial, Kathryne Daniels in all of her roles was dutifully comedic and punchy, and Scott Small as Cratchit was heart-wrenching and a joy to watch. The afternoon I attended we were serenaded pre-show by a lovely Christmas Caroling Crew. The pre-show entertainment rotates, and is listed in the program, but not which act is performing on which day. I was amiss in seeing anything posted to credit these singing voices. Fail one for BITR.
The projections on the back wall, three tiered elaborate set, inclusion of special effects (I still don’t know how they got the head of Marley through the knocker), were amazing and well-done. The stage hands flipped these cumbersome pieces with ease, and the fiddler (Alex Tocco) all kept the show running in a timely fashion.
I do see why it is a running tradition, and often a crowded one. I was a little bitchy going in- I must admit. I cherish my hard-heartedness on occasion. But watching the genuine laughter, the fake snow, and Scrooge change his worldly ways even made my little grinchy heart grow three times that day. And I will tell you, I shed a tear in that upper balcony while glaring down on the kindness. The Christmas spirit has even infected yours truly, sigh, swipe.
Even though the story is antiquated to some degree, the inclusion of Baltimore, infusion of humor, spot on dancing and acting, made this an enjoyable refuge from the hustle and bustle of the downtown shopping area.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? I would say go, but I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you need a lift, or distraction from the Holiday spirt that can be draining- go and treat yourself to a little emersion in a time long ago, when things were simplified, life unfolded like a well-written novel, and everyone is ebullient in the end. (I)
A Christmas Carol at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company through 12/23. Running time: two hours with a fifteen-minute intermission.