Enhance your holiday with ‘A Christmas Carol’ | TheUnion.com

Enhance your holiday with ‘A Christmas Carol’

Is there anything more evocative of the holiday season than a production of “A Christmas Carol?” And is it really possible to start your holiday celebrations without watching Ebenezer Scrooge transform from a serial curmudgeon to an extremely beneficent and joyous man? If you answered “no,” you are in luck because Legacy Productions is currently presenting a well-done and distinctive rendition of the beloved “A Christmas Carol,” using actor Jeffrey Mason’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella.

Probably most everyone in the English-speaking world knows the plot. Scrooge is a bitter and dour old miser who dramatically amends his outlook on life after visits by several supernatural beings help him to revisit his childhood joys and sorrows, witness the present happiness of other people and perceive the dire future consequences if he doesn’t change his ideology and behavior.

Jeffrey Mason’s adaptation runs 90 minutes — not so long that children will fidget — and stays fairly true to the novella. In fact, he retains much of Dickens’ original narrative to set up, elaborate upon and surround the dialogue. Director Susan Mason creatively works with that narration by having her actors walk in and out of the stage area and around pieces of the set, each speaking various bits of narrative when they aren’t assuming a specific character role and speaking with another character.

The cast is fairly large and seems even larger because of the many character and costume changes — every actor except Jeffrey Mason, who plays Scrooge, assumes more than one role. All of the actors are quite good with Jeffrey Mason as Scrooge, Christian Burke as Scrooge’s nephew Fred, Sara Noah as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Brian Arnold as Bob Cratchit especially strong.

I very much liked the lovely costumes, designed by Eileen Beaver — with so many characters and switches, she had to make them entirely user-friendly. And Michael Coleman’s wig and hair design added to the overall old-England effect.

A very interesting mechanism for changing scenery, in a play that doesn’t stop except for one intermission, is set designer Allison Chan’s use of moveable three-sided set pieces mounted on swivel casters called “periaktos,” first developed in ancient Greece. The actors themselves turn the pieces as they move around the set, as needed to create the look of a new locale. Take note: it’s worth the price of admission just to read master carpenter Darryl Stines’ explanation of “periaktos” in the program.

If you are feeling a bit “humbug” or just want some good entertainment, gather your family and go see “A Christmas Carol.” This rendition is visually and technically different enough that even if you are a jaded “Christmas Carol”-goer, you will enjoy this production. It continues at the Nevada Theatre — a fitting venue for an “old-timey play” — through Dec. 24th.

Hindi Greenberg enjoys the holiday season–most people morph into even nicer people than they are the rest of the year. But why is that? Instead, let’s observe Dickens’ message in this play and be nice to and help others all year long.

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