Theater Review: Civic Theatre’s ‘Christmas Carol’ brims with cheer
Maybe it’s because of the times we live in, or maybe it’s the combination of songs and story, but Civic Theatre of Allentown’s “A Christmas Carol” resonates with a resiliant poignancy.
The well-known tale of Ebenezer Scooge’s miserable self and his redemption based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella was adapted by Civic Theatre Artistic Director William Sanders, who directs and choreographs the show, and Civic Theater Board President Sharon Glassman.
From the opening chorus of “Gloria” to the concluding “Angels We Have Heard On High,” Civic’s “Christmas Carol” brims with good cheer. Civic’s “Christmas Carol” will not only put you in the holiday spirit, but is a spirit-lifting antidote to the world’s violence and woes.
“Carol” is, of course, Spirits-filled. Ghosts reveal to Scrooge (Mark Domyan) the past that was and might have been, a present that is all too real, and a future that is grim but filled with possibilities.
The casting and presentation of the Ghosts is key to measuring the strength and timbre of a production of “Carol.” Civic’s show has some particularly good Ghosts. This year, each is female.
Denise Long as The Ghost Of Christmas Past is less judgmental than many portrayals. Her all-white costume gives her an angelic presence. Long gently shows Scrooge the error of his ways.
Andrea Cartagena as The Ghost Of Christmas Present is dynamic. She holds the stage (as she did as Uncle Fester in Civic’s “The Addams Family”) and uses the moments to impress upon Scrooge how reprehensible his behavior is.
Chelsi Fread as The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come has the most thankless task, as is typical to the cloak-shrouded and silent role. Sinister is good in this part, and Fread conveys that.
Ghost No. 1 is that of Jacob Marley and Remy Kayal proves quite a spectacular spectre.
As with the other ghosts, Costume and Lighting Designer Will Morris, Hair and Wig Designer Kim Danish, Sound Designer Helena Confer and Technical Director Alexander Michaels do a tremendous job with the right mix of believability and fright.
Domyan is delightful, not an adjective one normally associates with Scrooge. Domyan is cantankerous as all get-out, but is also wistful and brings forth the little boy in the magical transformation of his soul and actions.
You probably couldn’t find a cuter Tiny Tim than Buster Page. His line delivery will make you smile.
Set Designer Jason Sherwood makes everything work smoothly and look realistic.
Sanders, with Associate Director JoAnn Wilchek-Basist, keeps the scenes, and the huge cast (some 127 including the Ivy and Holly casts of Urchins and Party Kids) clicking along at a steady pace. Aisles are used for entrances and exits, bringing the audience close to the action. The show runs just more than two hours, including intermission.
The cinematic sweep of flashbacks and flashforwards, as well as Scrooge seeng scenes when he can’t be seen, is flawless.
Civic Theatre’s “Christmas Carol” is a production that sings “Merry Christmas!” At this time of year and these days, we need its Christmas cheer.
“A Christmas Carol,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19; 2 p.m. Dec. 12, 13, 19, Civic Theatre of Allentown, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown. Tickets: civictheatre.com, 610-432-8943