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By Charles Dickens – Adapted by Kevin Moriarty

Dallas Theater Center

Directed by Joel Ferrell
Music Director – Vonda K. Bowling
Choreographer – Jeremy Allen Dumont
Scenic Designer – Beowulf Borritt
Costume Designer – Jen Caprio
Lighting Designer – Jeff Croiter
Sound Designer – Broken Chord
Hair, Wig and Make-up Designer – Valerie Gladstone
Original Composition – Aaron Meicht
Stage Manager – D. Christian Bolender
Assistant Stage Manager – Emily Burke
Director of Production – Majel Cuza
Production Manager – Phil Baranski
Artistic Producer – Sarahbeth Grossman

Ebenezer Scrooge – Brandon Potter
Bob Cratchit – Ian Ferguson
Young Scrooge, Fred – Christopher Llewyn Ramirez
Christ Past, Mrs. Cratchit – Tiana Kaye Blair
Mrs. Dilber, Mrs. Fezziwig – Liz Mikel
Jacob Marley, Young Marley, Old Joe – Ace Anderson
Lucy, Laundress – Amber Marie Flores
Miss Fezziwig, Charitable Woman #1 – Gigi Cervantes
Belle, Sister-in-law, Charitable Woman #2 – Jo-Jo Steine
Fezziwig Guest, Fred’s Guest, Musician – KJ Gray
Christmas Present – Coda Boyce
Topper, Undertaker’s Man – Neil Redfield
Schoolmaster – Aaron Campbell
Peter Cratchit – Juan Valeriano
Fan, Factory Child – Sabrina Daley, McKenzy Dodson
Boy Scrooge, Turkey Boy, Poverty – Camden Duyck, Wyatt Hartz
Martha Cratchit – Tallulah Belle Buss, Carrington Black
Belinda Cratchit, Hunger – Juliana Gamino, Benjamin Tanner
Edward Cratchit – Josiah Gamino, Benjamin Tanner
Tiny Tim Cratchit – Thomas Baughman, Patrick Bilbow
Understudies – Ana Hagedorn, Alex Organ

Reviewed Performance: 11/26/2019

Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Dallas Theater Center’s production of “A Christmas Carol” begins with a child beautifully singing a song of the hope of Christmas on the floor of a dark, dirty Victorian factory and ends with a child ringing a single bell that pierces the heart and shows that hope can be kindled in each of us all year long. In between, Director Joel Ferrell, using Kevin Moriarty’s adaptation of Charles Dicken’s classic story, has presented this tale of the redemption of the soul of one man and of all of society with a fresh sense of joy, seasoned with more than a dash of social conscience. This is the story of the reclamation of Ebenezer Scrooge and of all humankind, so that each person can live a life free of oppression and hunger. Mr. Ferrell and his talented, multi-racial cast embrace this message and share it with us with exuberance and heart.

Since the publication of “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, there have been countless adaptations for stage, radio, television and film. And each Christmas theaters around the world bring to life the story of the miser who, when visited by three spirits, repents of his stingy ways and lives Christmas in his heart and actions all the remaining days of his life. The reasons for this range from maintaining tradition to economic (the story is a reliable source of money). Keeping the presentation fresh and relevant is the challenge.

The Dallas Theater Center has ably met this challenge. The set designed by Beowulf Borritt is a menace of pipes and valves and furnaces. And this Ebenezer Scrooge (Brandon Potter) is not a money lender but the owner of a factory. High above the shop floor, he counts his money as men, women and children toil in this landscape of flame and smoke. When his foreman, Bob Cratchit (Ian Ferguson), shows compassion to a fallen girl, Scrooge reprimands him and reminds all the workers that he is the boss. This is a cruel, unbending man, keeping his employees in grinding poverty. The spirits will have their work cut out for them.

The spirits are more than up to the task. Scrooge’s dead partner Jacob Marley (Ace Anderson) seems to have dragged himself up from Hell to warn Ebenezer of his fate and to offer a hope of redemption, with the chains that bind him threatening to drag him back at any moment. The ghost of Christmas past (Tiana Kaye Blair) wistfully reminds Scrooge the path his life might have taken if money had not overwhelmed him. The ghost of Christmas present (Coda Boyce) introduces him to the happiness of the season and makes him acknowledge the plight of his employees and his only nephew who he chooses to ignore. Then the ghost of Christmas yet to come, a faceless young girl straight out of a Japanese horror movie but in black Victorian costume, shows him the fate in store for him soon if he does not change his ways.

It is the journey through the story that makes this production so wonderful to watch. Choreographer Jeremy Allen Dumont gives vibrant life to Ebenezer’s past and present celebrations. Costume designer Jen Caprio has provided clothes that take us from the grime of the factory to the splendor of the drawing room stylishly, with the hair, wig, and make-up designs of Valerie Gladstone complementing them perfectly. The lighting design of Jeff Croiter reflects Scrooge’s journey to redemption with its shadows in the beginning and breaking into full-on glory when the Christmas Spirit breaks into his heart. The soundscapes provided by Broken Chord take us deep into the belly of a Victorian factory and emphasize the oppression felt by the workers.

The star of “A Christmas Carol” is Ebenezer Scrooge and Brandon Potter wonderfully creates him. Exuding cruelty and avarice at the beginning, Mr. Potter believably transforms before our eyes. In his interactions with the various ghosts, Mr. Potter has moments of revelation flash across his face, only to quash them when asked what he is feeling. This Scrooge keeps fighting salvation until the bitter end. The display of Ebenezer’s exhilaration on Christmas morning after the ghostly visitations is hilarious and touching. Mr. Potter should be very proud of this performance.

Ian Ferguson comes across as a solid, compassionate Bob Cratchit. It makes you understand how the Cratchit family holds together amid their poverty. It is Bob’s love for his wife and children that binds them, and Mr. Ferguson clearly communicates this to the audience. Tiana Kaye Blair makes for a strong Mrs. Cratchit and does admirable double duty as the ethereal ghost of Christmas past.

As the put-upon housekeeper of Ebenezer Scrooge Mrs. Dilber and as the young Scrooge’s boss Mrs. Fezziwig, Liz Mikel shines. Her great voice and ebullient spirit add polish to an already brilliant production. Fred is my favorite character in the tale and Christopher Llewyn Ramirez does him justice. The character’s sincerity is on full display and in the scene where Fred finds Ebenezer at his door on Christmas Day, Mr. Ramirez’s reaction made me shed tears of joy. It is a truly heart-felt performance. Jo-Jo Steine played Belle, the sister-in-law attending Fred’s party, and a charity worker and made each character distinct and memorable. Amber Maria Flores made for a stunning and vulnerable Lucy, Fred’s wife, and like her husband met the reformed Ebenezer with grace and love.

Credit must be given the entire cast, who whole-heartedly threw themselves into the story heart and soul and produced a work of art sure to delight the spirit and provoke the conscience. Their singing, dancing, and commitment to their craft added immeasurably to the power of the story.

All the younger members of the cast showed great talent in all their performances. Notice goes to Sabrina Daly, who shined as Fan and as the factory girl who started the show out with her touching singing. Thanks also go out to Camden Duyck as Boy Scrooge and the Turkey Boy. My wife thought he was adorable. Patrick Bilbow was a lovely and vulnerable Tiny Tim.

“A Christmas Carol” is presented by the Dallas Theater Center year after year. Each year has something unique to share with us. This year we are asked to share Scrooge’s awakening and called, like him, to do what we can to better the life of the men, women, and children sharing this world with us. It’s a lot coming from what may be considered as just entertainment. The invitation to join them is extended. I urge you to accept it, so you too can share Ebenezer’s joy and, possibly, see the world around you with new eyes.

Dallas Theater Center
November 22 – December 29, 2019
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
2400 Flora St., Dallas, TX 75201
For Tickets and more information call 214-522-8499
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