The redemption story that is “A Christmas Carol” returns to Trinity Rep this season to great fanfare. Overall, it’s a solid production with no major surprises. The 2018 version strays only slightly from the original, mainly by incorporating campy, comic elements and a few unscripted quips throughout the performance. By the final scenes, there’s a near-slapstick feel to the show.
Dickens’ classic is a familiar one – seeing it is like catching up with old friends. The challenge for Trinity Rep, and Director Mark Valdez, is to make the production fresh, while keeping it familiar for the families who make seeing it an annual tradition. The company has succeeded on that front; this rendition will appeal to kids as much as adults.
This Year’s Version
As always, the acting, design, and overall production at Trinity is excellent. Standout performances come from the oft-confused Ghost of Christmas Past, Timothy Crowe (who formerly played Scrooge), and Fred Sullivan, Jr., who plays a gregarious Ghost of Christmas Present.
Stephen Thorne, who plays Scrooge, is adequate, although not quite miserly enough. At times, his character appears too youthful – he certainly brings high energy antics as the show progresses, perhaps overplaying the physicality of his character in the final scenes. No doubt, Scrooge developments to a point of joy and uplift, he’s just somewhat uneven at times.
Valdez broke with tradition by casting of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come as a young woman, played on alternate nights by Sophie Appel and Addison Ralphs. The spookiest moment in the show comes from the ghost of Jacob Marley, played by Mauro Hantman, who haunts Scrooge while dangling from the rafters.
Of course, Christmas Carol is more than a ghost story. It’s a tale of transformation, a common theme this time of year. No doubt for Trinity, one goal is for show-goers to depart with good vibes during the holiday season, along with warm memories of a theater they might return to in the future.
With its timeless message of hope and redemption, how can anyone not like “A Christmas Carol?” Whether performed by a high school troupe or one of the top theater companies in the nation, it’s always a pleasure to see this story. In these trying times, one would do well to heed its meaning, and seek renewal in the new year.
This year, Trinity has invited over 50 community choirs from around the state to be a part of the performance. The West Warwick High School Concert Chorale, who had the honor of singing on opening night, didn’t disappoint. Each performance features a different group, a nice touch for the holiday season, and a unique opportunity to be a part of something special.
There are several family friendly performances scheduled as well as a special sensory friendly performance designed to meet the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum, and/or individuals with sensory processing disorders or other cognitive disabilities. Check the complete schedule here for details.