A CHRISTMAS CAROL – A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS
Houston’s seasonal favorite—A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas returns this year with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story, which follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits that visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season.Date: November 19 (Previews) , November 20 through December 29
By: Charles Dickens
Adapted and Originally Directed by: Michael Wilson
Directed by: James Black
Suitable for general audiences. (Age 6+)
Approx Run Time: 92 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will always be a classic. I remember seeing it every year with my family when I was younger, so I thought I knew what I was in for. The Alley has a wonderful and strong company of actors who never disappoint, most of whom have been around anywhere from 10 to 30 years, so you’ll see some familiar faces if you’ve been there before. Jeffrey Bean delivers a wonderful Ebenezer Scrooge with little touches of humor throughout. John Feltch doubles as Mrs. Dilber (Scrooge’s housekeeper) and Jacob Marley. His portrayal of Mrs. Dilber provided pockets of laughter during some heavy moments. I was particularly fond of David Rainey’s portrayal of the Spirit of Christmas Present. He has such a wonderful stage presence, and the spirit of the Spirit flowed through him.
Being that the story is a traditional holiday classic, it is the director’s challenge to make it feel new again and James Black was able to accomplish just that. The play opened with several beautifully costumed spirits who came out and danced, then reappeared many times throughout the show. The story didn’t change, but the presentation has been refreshed. (see my comments on the production below).
The Alley recently went through a major renovation and reopened around this time last year. I have seen a few plays since then and absolutely love the changes they have made. I feel like their quality of production has improved since the renovation of the stage areas, which is saying a lot since their productions have always been top notch. The stage was set beautifully with a bridge across the back and a landing with stairs on each side offering extra levels of visual depth to the performance. The wall behind the bridge opened up to allow for the grand entrances of the Spirits. Jacob Marley had an impressive entrance from the fires of ‘below’ coming up through the middle of the stage floor. But the Spirit of Christmas Present had the best entrance of the show. As the mid-stage wall opens up for him a curtain of gold foil confetti falls from the ceiling beautifully uniform across the length of the stage. It was a truly magical moment. Something I have always loved about the Hubbard stage at The Alley is how the actors enter/exit from all directions. There are several trap doors in the stage floor, as well as two paths that come out from the audience, so the coming and going of characters feels so organic.
I have nothing bad to say about this show except that very young children might be frightened by some of the spirits during the beginning, particularly Jacob Marley who was convincingly cursed. But I loved every minute of it, and truly enjoyed the production updates which made it feel new and different.