By Sheila Martindale
Right at the start of this play we are told, “This is a ghost story.” And it is. Enough spooky lighting and music to run chills up your spine. Plus extremely loud booms of thunder to startle you out of your seat. But, of course, it is also a story of redemption, of how a person can change for the better. And there is enough joy and good cheer to lift your heart, as a Christmas story should.
Scrooge himself does not look as cold-hearted as he might, but Tom McBeath’s voice and actions reveal his true nature. The part of Jacob Marley is taken by Gerry Mackay, who also plays the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come, and who provides the prologue and epilogue.
Evan Frayne and Celine Stubel are Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit, pulling at our heatstrings, while the Cratchit children – Azura Lepard, William Robertson, Lauren Alberico and Jude Culham-Keays (as Tiny Tim) are totally delightful.
Everybody portrays more than one character in this populous production, requiring some quick changes of costumes and attitudes, all of which are seamlessly done. And Nancy Bryant’s costume designs are beautifully authentic. Director Michael Shamata, who also adapted this version from Charles Dickens’ original novel, has taken a few brave liberties, resulting in a wonderful mixture of heart-stopping and heart-warming moments. Jessica Hickman’s choreography is brilliant, distributing people evenly across the stage, and presenting some marvelous dance scenes. She is also (along with John Han) one of two unnamed spirits, both of whom perform some charming and clever stage-management as we move through this complex drama.
No matter how often one sees A Christmas Carol, there is always something new and different, which is why we go to every possible production, year after year.
If a brilliant piece of theatre is on your list this season, hurry over to the Belfry. Call 250-385-6815 for tickets. A Christmas Carol runs until December 17.