“A Christmas Carol” holds up well on its fourth go-around

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Two women talking in from of a Christmas tree
"A Christmas Carol" at McCarter Theatre Center (Photo from McCarter Theatre Center Facebook page)

McCarter show is skillfully directed by Adam Immerwahr

My first show at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton as a reviewer was the David Thompson adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in its first presentation. I was enthralled with the production then, and I am pleased to say that it is just as fine this season.

Actors and guests talk before show
“A Christmas Carol” at McCarter Theatre Center (Photo from McCarter Theatre Center Facebook page)

Every aspect of this adaptation works to present not only the familiar tale of the redemption of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge but also the ghost story giving the audience chills not associated with the season’s climate. Skillfully directed once again by Adam Immerwahr, with a cast once again headed by Greg Wood’s strong portrayal of Scrooge, A Christmas Carol is a splendid addition to the holiday offerings of New Jersey’s theatres.

The story needs no explanation. Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley (Frank X), who seeks to spare Scrooge from Marley’s own torment after death. Three spirits visit Scrooge to this end. Christmas Past (Alicianna Rodriguez) forces Scrooge to relive scenes from his past—his solitary boyhood, the loss in childbirth of his beloved sister Fan (Lauryn Morgan Thomas), his apprenticeship with the Fezziwigs (Steven Rattazzi, Twinkle Burke), his doomed romance with their daughter Belle (Andrea Goss)—showing how he came to be the man he is. Christmas Present (Chandler Miller) shows him the present he has stubbornly kept at arm’s length—the family of his mistreated clerk Bob Cratchit (Jon Norman Schneider), including the invalid Tiny Tim (Aria Song), and his nephew Fred, and his wife Lily (Billy Finn, Andrea Goss). The silent, ominous Christmas Future (Paul Deo Jr.) shows Scrooge how the future will progress based on Scrooge’s current course.

McCarter’s design team—scenic designer Daniel Ostling, lighting designer Lap Chi Chu, and sound designer Damon L. West—creates the world of Dickens’ London, from the offices of Scrooge & Marley to the homes of Scrooge, the Cratchits, and Fred and Lily to a bleak cemetery. Jeremy Chernick’s special effects provide magic and mystery to the ghost story, aided by flying effects from the well-known firm Flying by Foy. Choreographer Lorin Latarro provides rousing fun during the show’s party scenes. The costumes by Linda Cho are understated as they fit characters ranging from beggars to party-goers to ghostly visitors.

At this time of year, sharing a familiar story of redemption and the Christmas spirit is welcome. McCarter Theatre Center‘s annual gift of A Christmas Carol is just such a story. I recommend taking your family to see this cozy, traditional presentation of Charles Dickens’ beloved A Christmas Carol this holiday season!

A Christmas Carol is presented by the McCarter Theatre Center at the Matthews Theatre on the campus of Princeton University through December 29, 2019. For tickets and information, visit www.mccarter.org.