Quote of the Day: Christmas, and the end of the year, is definitely a time when people try their hardest to begin afresh, a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; when men and women seem to be one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
I was in the audience on opening/media night of the Guthrie’s 47th annual production of A Christmas Carol two years ago when they did this adaptation by Lavina Jadhwani. That experience was tainted by a disruptive audience member. I missed last year’s production. But, I was back on opening/media night this weekend, and fell back in love with this story. Jadhwani’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol under the excellent direction of Addie Gorlin-Han brought to life by a talented cast and crew is a beautiful and brilliant production filled with many humorous lines and moments as well as surprises. It will surely put you in the holiday spirit.
Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in the Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve, or the darkest days of the year. Certainly, it is gloomy in the Northern hemisphere with the short hours of sunlight that are often grey and cloudy, the chilly winds, the brown, bleak and bare trees followed by ice and snow. Today, we might chase the gloom away by decorating our houses, baking cookies and watching holiday movies. Back in Dickens’ time, they gathered around the fire and told ghost stories. I’ve always thought of Scrooge’s journey as a cautionary tale, a call to wake up and live a better life. It’s a hopeful tale of repentance and redemption, and that we can strive to live a better life while we’re still on this side of the grave. What better way to scare a man into generosity than to send ghosts to haunt his nights, show him the errors of his evil ways, and his ultimate demise?
Matthew Saldivar plays Ebenezer Scrooge, ranging from cranky and mean to jovial and spry, once he’s learned his lesson! He’s absolutely a joy to watch. I’ve seen many iterations of A Christmas Carol through the years, and each one has a unique feel. Saldivar gives this one a special kind of charm. Perhaps that’s because he is supported by an exceptional cast of Twin Cities actors. Stephanie Anne Bertumen as Belle, the one who got away. John Catron as Bob Cratchit, with wonderful comedic timing and appropriate sentimentality. Paul de Cordova as the jovial Mr. Fezziwig – and they still do a wonderful scene with singing and dancing for Fezziwig’s party! Andy Frye as Belle’s husband and the scariest ghost of Christmas Future! He is somehow able to move in that giant costume, looking very ominous. Nathaniel Fuller as Old Joe, and one of the narrators. Several cast members narrate throughout the show, giving it more of a feeling of bringing the book to life. Charity Jones as the ghost of Marley, standing boldly above Scrooge warning him to “take heed.” Kurt Kwan floats in as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Tyler Michaels King as Collector 1, Dick Wilkins and one of the many townspeople who are carolers, dancers, and storytellers. Greta Oglesby is Mrs. Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Present in the most gorgeous costume I’ve ever seen! Eric Sharp is a charming Fred who never quite gives up on his Uncle Scrooge. There are many more actors, adults and children, in the ensemble. Of course, Tiny Tim who charms even cranky old Scrooge, a young Scrooge, and the cute young man who asks if he should buy the goose that’s “as big as me!”
The amazing, movable, magical set was designed by Matt Saunders. Incredibly detailed, stunning costumes by Toni-Leslie James. Lighting Design by Yi Zhao, and Sound Design by Mikaal Sulaiman. A Christmas Carol is a play with music, including several traditional Christmas Carols and original songs under the direction of Mark Hartman, composed by Jane Shaw. Beautiful choreography and movement by Regina Peluso. The creative team makes use of all the trappings and tricks of this space with many surprises and magical moments. I brought my friend Katie, who was a first-timer watching A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie, and she said she felt like one of the kids as she reacted to all the amazing happenings on stage. A school group was also in the audience, and I could see and hear some of their reactions, making the whole experiences even more delightful! Bring the kids, but not the very young, because it is a little scary in some parts.
You can be part of the holiday tradition at the Guthrie Theater and see A Christmas Carol there through Dec. 30, 2023. Each production has a different feel, and this one left me feeling in good spirits! Now, I’m ready to play the holiday music, bake some cookies and watch favorite shows with my friends and family.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What are some of your holiday traditions?