A Christmas Carol at Harlequin Productions
A perfect way to settle into the Holiday spirit, Harlequin’s last production of the year is a classic retelling of an everlasting Christmas story. Originally written by Charles Dickens in 1843, A Christmas Carol follows a bitter old man, Ebeneezer Scrooge, and four spirits that come to him on Christmas eve. The ghosts of a former business partner and three iterations of the Christmas spirit urge him to follow a path of kindness in his life. This would result in more happiness for those around him and for him as well. A largely popular story, it has never been out of print and has been reproduced countless times for plays, films, operas, television, ballets and others.
Aaron Lamb’s production opens with a live Christmas carol that immediately sets the scene and provides the audience with an uplifting Christmas atmosphere. The carols continue throughout the play and are accompanied by a splendid use of other sensory elements, from candles in an otherwise dark room, to lightning and thunder, smoke, and even coins hitting the ground. Though the sound effects would, on a few occasions, drown out the actors’ voices, they did provide a good way to transition between scenes, emphasize certain moments and actions and keep the audience’s attention where it needed to be. On most occasions, the lighting was precise and minimal, careful not to overdo anything to create the most efficient atmosphere. Though, sometimes they underdid it instead.
On the other hand, the actors moved through a mostly static stage, with not a lot of props to help change the scene. Although they did a really good job utilizing the stage to its fullest potential, it would’ve also been helpful to set apart time frames or scenes with more contrasting lighting changes or a more visually striking background.
One of the few faults of this production is the convoluted dialogue that occasionally feels unnatural to some of the cast members. The script, although accurate to Dicken’s writing and to the epoch, sometimes makes it hard for the actors to put enough emotion behind each line and makes them prone to rush through them.
Terry Edward Moore is Ebeneezer Scrooge in this production, and his grumpiness is so heartfelt that he seems almost a caricature (in a good way, in case that wasn’t clear). He evokes his annoyance through constant grunts, heavy footsteps, loud breathing and other body movements. At the same time, he’s able to navigate other emotions believably and carry the plot forward alongside them.
Xander Layden, who plays Scrooge’s nephew (amongst other characters), is the perfect emotional counterpart to Moore. Layden is cheerful, uplifting and sincere, while at the same time staying grounded and aware of his uncle’s emotions. Unlike Scrooge’s assistant, played by Christian Buldoc, he isn’t afraid of contradicting the old man and showing his excitement about the holidays. As yet another contrast, Buldoc is timid and scared of his employer and, although he has a taller frame than both Moore and Buldoc, he makes himself look small and submissive. It was truly enjoyable to see their energies interacting on the stage.
The rest of the cast doesn’t stay too far behind. Every actor adds something new to the stage and they all work together to create a great play experience, but you will have to attend the play yourself to witness their unique talents. Most notably, the cast includes three elementary school students: Wade Mutchler, Eleanor Rose Kinn and Twanna Beedle. The latter two share the same role so I was only able to see Beedle and Mutchler in action.
Mutchler plays Tiny Tim and other young boy characters. He’s sweet and energetic and keeps up well with his adult costars. Beedle plays both Scrooge’s late sister, Fan, and the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. She’s responsible for delivering one of the truest yet most cutting lines in the play. In a sweet, soft-spoken voice she says: “you were alone when you died, but you needn’t have been.” This is perhaps one of the main messages of the play, which is ever more powerful when delivered by Beedle.
Overall, a production worth watching. Go with your friends, kids, grandparents, and parents to kickstart the Christmas season with a well-executed iteration of what is for so many a childhood classic. In the words of Aaron Lamb: “May you too find ghosts that change you for the better this holiday season.”
202 4th Avenue East, Olympia | November 25 – December 24 | Evenings at 7:30pm | Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm.
Get your tickets here: https://harlequinproductions.org/show/a-christmas-carol-3/