MORRISBURG – England, the Victorian era. The desolate home of the meanest man in London, Ebenezer Scrooge, on December 24. And Scrooge’s harried house keeper, will unwittingly set the stage for the extraordinary night to come, when she turns to the old miser and says, “This is a Christmas eve like none I’ve seen before.”
That’s when the magic begins. Upper Canada Playhouse’s production of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a wonderful production – from the cast, to the music, to the set and lighting.
From the moment the London street people burst into ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,’ the audience is transported to another time and place and invited to relive one of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time. Scrooge, his Ghosts, Mr & Mrs Fezziwig, Fred and his wife, the Cratchits and Tiny Tim all come to life on the Playhouse stage, and, judging by the applause and cheers that are greeting the performances, audiences, young and older, are delighted.
The show, which started December 7 and finishes December 18, 2022, has been playing to packed houses. Full of music, and dance, and performed on an extraordinary revolving stage which allows scenes to flow seamlessly into one another, this is an outstanding production. Director Donnie Bowes has breathed fresh life into the classic story.
We want our Scrooges to be snarly and mean, and from his first “Bah! Humbug!” Jamie Williams’ miser lives up to his reputation as the most “odious, stingy, unfeeling man” in the city. In fact, before the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future help him to understand the error of his ways, Scrooge frankly seems to revel in his unpleasantness.
It will take a miracle for his eyes to be opened to the “Ignorance” and “Want” that surround him.
However, there are miracles aplenty in this production.
The cast assembled for ‘A Christmas Carol’ is uniformly outstanding. Most of these talented actors play multiple roles in this show: they are also called upon to play instruments, sing, dance and maintain a breathless pace. They succeed. Unique characterizations make it easy for even the smallest audience member to understand the story. The Ghost of Christmas Past is most unexpected, the Ghost of Christmas present a jolly soul, the Ghost of Christmas Future positively eerie. And when the late Jacob Marley makes his entrance into Scrooge’s bedroom, everyone gasps. Yet there is great humour in this production too – witness two pompous Businessmen attending a ‘funeral.’
This Playhouse production is filled with colour and light. It is definitely a challenging show in terms of staging, but technical director Sean Free and the Stage crew do phenomenal work. The pace never flags.
In every respect, ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Upper Canada Playhouse is brilliantly staged and acted, right from the opening music to Tiny Tim’s final “God bless us everyone.”
This show makes us realize that Charles Dickens wrote a timeless tale, a tale that has touched generation after generation….and may it ever be so.