The Christmas spirit is in the air at Fernwood’s Belfry Theatre, where artistic director Michael Shamata is directing his adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
At the forefront of this dynamic production — led by veteran actor Tom McBeath as a remarkably human Ebenezer Scrooge and an enchanting Gerry Mackay as the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future — is the transformation of a mistanthrope into a humanitarian, and it’s a pretty powerful one at that.
The story is a familiar one — those who haven’t read the Dickens original have surely seen the Disney classic, and this production is in keeping with the archetype.
But Shamata’s vision for this production tells the story in such a profoundly affecting way — with a stellar cast, a beautiful set, stunning physicality and incredible period costuming — and still it was the Christmas spirit that was the star of the show.
McBeath was the perfect choice for Scrooge, but his scrooge, while mean and greedy, was also weak, cowardly and, as it turns out, quite a nice guy — laughing, smiling, even dancing along with the memories the spirits present before him.
Adam Lolacher’s compelling performance as Scrooge’s employee Bob Crachit brought me (and many other audience members) to tears. It’s amazing how someone can be so grateful when they have so little.
Celine Stubel shone as Mrs. Cratchit (she also played at least three other characters), portraying the dutiful and devoted traditional wife role with gripping emotional range.
Real-life couple Brian Linds and Jan Wood were delightful on stage together as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. This scene, a memory brought forward by the Ghost of Christmas Past, is one of the most charming in the play, with an entertaining dance number and hefty helping of joy and amusement.
The four young-actors, Amisha and Ajay Parikh-Friese (in their Belfry debuts), and the the adorable Lily Cave and Simeon Sanford Blades (as Tiny Tim) kept up with their more mature peers and really added the childlike innocence everyone looks forward to so much at this time of year. Kudos to these fine young artists.
Shamata’s decision to cast two dancers, Jessica Hickman and Daniel Fong as spirits was a good one, using the two alluring performers to transition the set from one scene to another with grace and delicacy.
If you think it’s too early to hear Christmas music in department stores or get the tree out of storage, get down to the Belfry and ignite the Christmas spirit within you. I laughed, I cried and took a long look at my life and what I have to be grateful for, and the Belfry is one of those things. M
A Christmas Carol
The Belfry Theatre
Until Dec. 16
Tickets from $25, Family of four $80
Ages six and up