THEATER REVIEW: “A Christmas Carol” @ Great Lakes Theater by Lisa DeBenedictis

Through Sun 12/22

Great Lakes Theater has created an exceptional presentation of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol with this outstanding production directed by Gerald Freedman. Freedman sticks to Dickens’ original story arc and classic characters, he also culls not only outstanding performances from every single actor on set and breathes new life into this classic by achieving extraordinary special effects, stage production, and lighting and sound design.

This familiar classic contains consequential storytelling for children and young adults, and Great Lakes Theater has reduced ticket prices for all children and students to a flat rate of $26 for every seat of every production, taking place at Mimi Ohio Theatre.

A Christmas Carol is perennial family holiday fare for its messages of social consciousness, the necessity of year-round charitableness, and the essentialness of joy and fellowship. Charles Dickens’ work is relevant to present-day humanity, as greed and miserliness against the disadvantaged and destitute by those with privilege can still bring strife and hopelessness to many. Dickens’ timeless parable transforms a miserly curmudgeon into a benevolent humanitarian within the trajectory of Christmas Eve and is a beloved tale of optimism that audiences of every age and background seem crave and cheer.

Charles Dickens was outraged at the conditions in which the poor and working class lived, and wished to draw the upper classes’ attention to their plight. Dickens’ themes of the need for social conscience and benevolence are just as pertinent today.

This compelling production is filled with visual spectacle that can easily compete with modern presentations of the story with animated effects on film and television. Gerald Freedman ingeniously and skillfully directs this accomplished cast but is masterfully supported by a brilliant crew of sound, lighting, set and costume designers: Charles Feel (producing artistic director), Mary Jo Dondlinger, Jeff Herrmann and Cynthia Stillings (lighting designers), John Ezell and Gene Emerson Friedman (scenic designers), Stan Kozak and Tom Mardikes (sound designers) James Scott (costume designer), Mathew Webb (music director), and Robert Waldman (music adapter and arranger).

The entire cast forges a visual and aural spectacle with dexterous choreography and musical artistry that held a sold-out audience entranced.

Special accolades must be given to the stellar performances by Lynn Robert Berg whose Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed with a miserly and recognizable wit. Berg’s witty and curmudgeonly honed Scrooge is filled with contempt and dismissal of the downtrodden as lazy and negligent, and his conversion from a man of greed and viciousness to one of compassion and altruism is staggeringly authentic due in large part to the skillful and ingeniously imaginative performances of ghosts: Past, Present and Future (Leilani Barrett as Christmas Present, and Patrick John Kiernan as the ghosts of both Christmases Future and Past) The Ghosts will simultaneously frighten and delight audiences of every age and background.

The show runs through Sun 12/22. Purchase tickets here.

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[Written by Lisa DeBenedictis]

 

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