Review: “A Christmas Carol”

The Indiana Repertory Theatre’s A Christmas Carol opened this weekend to audiences new and old in Indianapolis downtown, officially beginning the holiday season for this Indianapolis theatre. In the second year of a scaled down version of their original A Christmas Carol, the IRT proves that it is possible to create magic out of thin air and thin pockets. An allegory for our own time, the story of the IRT’s new and improved A Christmas Carol, carries all the same spirited wonder in a smaller package. This small-package-big-ideas idea helps us to re-imagine and remember the true meaning the holiday season.

On scenic designer Russell Methany’s traditional snow covered stage, the timeless tale of Scrooge is told once more. It seems in theatres across the United States that A Christmas Carol invokes those particular spirits of winter, reminding us to give more than we get and love more than we are. The IRT is part of a cannon of theatre that perform Charles Dickens’ holiday novella. What is it about that book that transports us year after year?

The IRT’s A Christmas Carol pulls out many of the same stops it always has with a few new nice surprises. I will not venture to spoil the magic for theatre goers, only to say that the story of A Christmas Carol and the story of A Christmas Carol at the IRT offers proof that humanity and art can prevail in the face of adversity. Director Priscilla Lindsay employs all the power of theatre magic that her years in the business afford her to share this favorite chillingly theatrical Christmas ghost story. At the same time, she is careful to present the ups and downs of a good life poorly lived with the highest highs and lowest lows, perfect to create holiday memories with the Circle City.

The downsized cast of actors does no less to populate Dickens’ streets. Each actor, with the exception of Scrooge, dashes about in a myriad of roles bringing to life this holiday ghost story. Charles Goad reprises his role as Ebeneezer Scrooge. As always, Goad has a ball on stage. His energy is willfully and easily transferred to adoring eyes in a sea of red and green holiday dresses and sweaters. As the Ghost of Christmas Past, Cora Vander Broek is spritely and fun. Returning as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Fezziwig and the Portly Gentleman, David Alan Anderson is every bit of the boisterous fun he ought to be. With a commanding voice, he booms throughout the theatre space.

Ben Tebbe and Constance Macy don the family favorite roles of Bob and Mrs. Cratchit. Tebbe though a bit fresh faced to play as poorly a soul as Bob Cratchit, brings incredible spunk and spirit to the part. Constance Macy is hilarious as usual. As the thrifty Queen of the Cratchit clan, she speaks directly to every parents holiday budget crisis with a twinkle and a smile. If Mrs. Cratchit can make the best of very little, so can we all.

The adult cast is rounded out by Matthew Brumlow, Mark Goetzinger, Ryan Artzberger, Lilia Vassileva and Milicent Wright. These actors work together in an ensemble of Victorian characters all crucial to the telling of the tale and the invoking of the Christmas spirits. Though the show is a bit smaller than it use to be, it is no less cheerful. This extraordinarily satisfying show of extremes reminds of us of the importance of heeding Scrooge’s life as a warning, and proves for once and all that a down turned economy can not come near ruining the true spirit of Christmas.

For more information about this Indianapolis art event at the IRT, visit their website. The holiday season is underway and Indianapolis events are in full swing. Check out all the fun things to do in Indianapolis on Fun City, as well as our Indianapolis restaurant and Indianapolis bar listings. Plan some holiday cheer in Indianapolis downtown at Fun City

A Christmas Carol
November 21 through December 27, 2009

Indiana Repertory Theatre
140 W Washington St
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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