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Classic story revisited at PlayhouseSquare

December 6th, 2012

Have a case of the Christmas blues? Have you lost touch of that childlike Christmas spirit? Slipped into a natural reflex of replying with a “bah humbug” to every “Merry Christmas” wish? Cleveland’s own Great Lakes Theater Festival gives audience members a twinkle of the blithe side of the holidays sure to warm the hearts of both cynics and Christmas enthusiasts alike.

GLTF’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Gerald Freedman and staged by Sara Burner, upholds Cleveland’s reputation for theatrical mastery. The diversely talented company of actors breathes a new breath of life into Charles Dickens’ timeless classic.

“A Christmas Carol” runs from now until Dec. 23 at the Ohio Theatre located at PlayhouseSquare.

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation from stingy businessman to heart-of-gold model citizen never fails to renew the true meaning of Christmas. Scrooge is visited by his late business partner, Jacob Marley, and warned that he will be haunted by three spirits: the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The journey of redemption ensues.

Great Lakes Theater Festival adds their own flavor to the beloved classic by incorporating a variety of musical numbers complete with singing and dancing. However, the musical technicality is arguably not up to par for a professional theater; but what lacks in technique is made up in pure enthusiasm and excitement. Even the Christmas cynics of the audience can’t help but smile at the Christmas spirit emanating from the stage.

Each actor onstage, from principal roles to the ensemble, becomes fully invested in the performance, making every moment far from dull.  Special mention, however, goes to Laura Perotta as the mother. Perotta commanded the stage through her narration of the tale, and her warm presence onstage served as a comfort to the audience.

Aled Davies, as Ebenezer Scrooge, brought Scrooge’s multi-dimensional persona to life. The transformation from cold and miserly to emotionally conflicted,  and finally to energetically altruistic was palpable. Davies uncovered a youthfully vulnerable dimension to the character, moving the audience to sympathize with Scrooge.

“A Christmas Carol” provides a great number of opportunities to showcase special effects – GLTF not only met this challenge, but surpassed expectations. From the unnerving Ghost of Christmas Future, to the piercing sound effects, the entirety of the play was nothing short of goosebump inducing.

The overall staging of the play was what pieced all the facets together. Blocking was crisp and precise, and every movement was executed effectively.

The production itself served as a walk down memory lane of Christmases past – a timeless classic performed by a talented cast and meshed together by flawless staging; a must see this Christmas season.