‘Is it snowing?” whispers the little girl sitting behind me as fluffy white flakes start to drift down towards Maclab Theatre’s thrust stage. Then, without waiting for a response from her mom, she declares, “It’s snowing!”
Such is the magic of A Christmas Carol at the Citadel Theatre. Artistic Director Bob Baker, along with a superb crew and an endearing collection of performers, has created, for the 14th year running, an enchanting theatre experience you can believe in.
Tom Wood’s adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale starts in a barren graveyard, as a few notes from a stark “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” linger in the air. Scrooge is saying goodbye to his only friend and business partner, Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve. It’s a chilling opening that quickly gives way to the happy streets of London, seven years later, on the very same night.
The set spins like a carousel, twirling from quaint little storefront to quaint little storefront until we find Scrooge’s dark door, where Bob Cratchit must work late into the night.
It’s the play’s ability to flip between Scrooge’s cold, bitter existence and the merry and bright spirit of Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the rest of London on Christmas Eve that makes the Citadel’s version so moving—it’s both frightening and joyful, frosty and warm, desperately dark and full of light.
The set is wondrous, the costumes delightful, the lighting and sound are perfection, the level of cheer is at maximum capacity, except, of course, James MacDonald’s Scrooge, whose humbugs don’t ring out simply as a caricature of a grumpy old man, but as a man who has truly soured from a disappointing past.
And though his appearance is brief, special mention goes to John Kirkpatrick’s spooky Marley who pulls off “doomed to walk the earth for all of eternity” to terrifying effect.
So if your heart is closed to the meaning of Christmas, seek out A Christmas Carol at the Citadel. It is sure to fill you with enough spirit to send you on a comfy-cozy sleigh ride straight through the season.
Until Mon, Dec 23 (7:30 pm)
Directed by Bob Baker
$35 – $93.45