A traditional past and delightful present come together in North Coast Repertory Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," running through Dec. 27. Back for another season with a well-done new production suitable for all ages, the play is a fun and an appropriate reminder of what the season is all about.
The Rep's version of the classic Charles Dickens' tale was adapted by Jacqueline Goldfinger and directed by Stephen Elton.
As they dance across the set of a charming 1800s English village, an enjoyable ensemble cast of children and adults open the play with songs about the upcoming holiday. The carolers are also the narrators of the story, thus allowing for the shortened length of the play. With rather good English accents, each ensemble member does a great job of keeping the intrigue escalating.
As doors slide away, Ebenezer Scrooge's (Ron Choularton) dreary business appears. His assistant, Bob Cratchit (Geno Carr), is trying to contain himself from showing signs of excitement about Christmas. He hopes his boss will give him tomorrow off. Scrooge counts his money with tight-fisted fingers and a scowl on his face that seems permanent from birth.
When Scrooge's nephew (Brian Mackey) drops by with a gift and embraces his uncle with a sincere hug, he asks his uncle what he has to be ornery about. But all he gets in response is a nasally snort and a "bah humbug."
It's during the night that Scrooge gets a visit from his dead partner, Jacob Marley's ghost warning him that he should rethink his stingy ways. Marley (Von Schauer) is quite foreboding. He appears locked inside heavy chains and almost Frankenstein-looking. One small voice from the audience asks: "I'm scared, Mommy - can we go home?"
Yet only a few moments later everyone is laughing when a giddy "reborn" Scrooge jumps around the stage. He turns into a babbling brook of excitement as he acts like a little kid remembering days when he actually enjoyed living. A visit by one of the ghosts is a real turning point of Scrooge's transition. That's when they take a peek into the future and see the Cratchit family happily pretending there is real food on their plates. The site of Tiny Tim who is buoyant about Christmas despite his crippled condition resonates real emotion in Scrooge's eyes.
The costumes, the intricate working of the set design and the actors themselves easily transport the audience to another time and place. Several outbursts of giggles from children authenticate that this is indeed a play for families. Although Goldfinger's adaptation is short, it misses nothing of the message Dickens' originally intended in his classic story: that the holiday season is a time to reach out with love, empathy and sometimes forgiveness.
'A Christmas Carol'
- Through Dec. 27
- North Coast Repertory Theatre
- 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
- (858) 481-1055