Treat yourself to an early Christmas present and head to North Shore Music Theatre. If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge fan of anything written by Charles Dickens. His classic story, "A Christmas Carol," has enchanted me since I was a boy. Over the decades that I have trod the earth, I have seen many adaptations and presentations of this tale dramatized on stage and screen. I have never seen any better presentation of this story than the one presently on stage at NSMT. Everything about this production makes it worthy of investing your entertainment dollar. It is visually stunning, theatrically mesmerizing, emotionally gripping, and spiritual uplifting, Under the inspired direction of Artistic Director Kevin P. Hill, all of the elements - staging, choreography, lighting, sound, music, acting, singing, flying, pyrotechnics - all coalesce into a pleasing whole that had me vacillating among a Christmas punch bowl of emotions - joy, wonder, amazement, sympathy, empathy, pity, hope and finally - deep satisfaction. And isn't that the essence of the Christmas experience?
- David Coffee has inhabited the role of Ebenezer Scrooge lo these many seasons (22 to be exact), and there is no one better in portraying the dizzying arc of Scrooge's journey through time and turmoil. Mr. Coffee brews an even more satisfying cup of Christmas cheer with each new annual production of this play. His facial expressions and grunting of "Humbug!" are along worth the price of admission. But he also has a wondrous supporting cast backing him up.
- Andrew Tighe is the young and erstwhile romantic Ebenezer, in love with life and with Belle (Lenni Alexandra Kmiec). Their chemistry is palpable, and it is heart-rending to watch Belle's heart break as Ebenezer's heart hardens, and she is replaced in his affections by gold and his relentless pursuit of lucre.
- In adapting this novella to the stage, writer Jon Kimbell has deftly employed the role of the Narrator to create a context and explication for much of the action. Tommy Labanaris is perfect in this role. In a wonderful plot twist in the final moments of the show, we learn why the Narrator has been leaning upon a cane throughout the proceedings. It is a nice touch.
- The Cratchit Family - This struggling little family is at the emotional heart of this narrative, and as portrayed by these gifted actors, we feel their affection and concern for one another. Russell Garrett is Bob Cratchit, pater familias and also beleaguered clerk to Ebenezer Scrooge. Leigh Barrett is a warm mother and very opinionated in her resentment of the parsimonious Mr. Scrooge. Ms. Barrett also doubles as the Ghost of Christmas Past, in which role she is also marvelous. Jillian Furber is Martha Cratchit, Cameron Perrin is Peter Cratchit, Haven Pereira is Belinda Cratchit and Jake Ryan Flynn is the universally beloved Tiny Tim.
|Scrooge Observes The Cratchit Family At Table|
"A Christmas Carol"
North Shore Music Theatre
Through December 23rd
- The Spirits - In addition to the versatile Ms. Barrett as The Ghost of Christmas Past, Peter S. Adams presents an imposing figure as The Ghost of Christmas Present. berobed and bedecked in traditional holiday colors. The aforementioned Andrew Tighe doubles as the Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come, and is a haunting spectre. He is accompanied by Ignorance (Joshua Gillespie) and Want (Jay Turner). The writer has cleverly created two sprites called The Pearlies who energetically tumble and dance and generally cavort around the stage. Their presence indicates to the audience that we are about to experience the appearance of a spirit from another realm. The first such visit is that of the Ghost of Jacob Marley (Freddie Kimmel) as he flies in (flying effects by ZFX, Inc.) to warn Scrooge that it is not too late to stop forging the kinds of ponderous chains that envelop the spectral former business partner and fellow miser. The Pearlies are played by the enormously talented Nathaniel Brage and Brad Trump. Their presence in each scene serves as a sort of theatrical amuse-bouche for the audience, preparing our palates for the more substantial ghostly offerings to come on the bill of fare.
- The Scrooge Family - In addition to those already mentioned above, Scrooge's extended family includes Giacomo Favazza as the boy Ebenezer, Bronson Norris Murphy as the irrepressible and ever joyful nephew Fred, Lianne Gennaco as Fred's bride, Meg and Scarlett Keene-Connole as Ebenezer's sister Fan.
- The Fezziwigs - J.T. Turner as Mr. Fezziwig and Cheryl McMahon as Mrs. Fezziwig anchor the luminous memories of the young clerk Ebenezer being treated with great affection by his first employer. This joyous couple knew how to throw a party!
- Revelers, Townsfolk and Others - Robert Conte as Old Joe, Jake Bassinger and Ian Castracane as London boys, Tim McShea as Dick Wilkins, and Eva Rae Costanza, Lorin Zackular, Meghan Ahern as residents of London.