As of this writing, there are hundreds of adaptations of A Christmas Carol; so many, in fact, that Charles Dickens fustian masterpiece deserves to have its own ghost appear whenever one makes the decision to reconfigure the work.
The Ghost of Change a Classic at Your Peril, perhaps; a shade that would hang over one’s head with grim tenacity, threatening the ambitious would-be playwright or composer with eternal damnation if his attempts to re-interpret this time-honored tale of supernatural redemption in any way compromises its original intent.
Luckily, there is no such spirit, but even if there were, Arvada Center’s A Christmas Carol: The Musical would certainly not face eternal damnation, because under the direction of Rod A. Lansberry, there is no doubt that this production is a huge success.
The lights dim, the theatre goes dark and you are immediately in the magical world of A Christmas Carol. A rousing Christmas number is sung and toward the end of it enters Ebenezer Scrooge. Joseph Dellger gives Scrooge a hunkered-down, angry-old-man look and feel. His bah humbug is resounding as he storms through the chorus of performers. Scrooge is an unhappy man indeed.
Once the ghost of Jacob Marley, played wonderfully by Drew Frady enters, Scrooge is transformed into a terrified old man. Ghosts, played by ensemble members, join Marley on stage and they sing and dance around Scrooge and his bed, “Link by Link”. The moment is a remarkable sight. Marley’s costume alone is worth mentioning, covered in chains and moneyboxes. In fact, the costumes for the entire cast are all very well done.
The spirit of Christmas Past (Ashlie-Amber Harris) reminds Scrooge of the joys and sorrows that shaped his isolation. Her voice is beautiful as she whips Scrooge around the stage singing “The Lights of Long Ago”. Harris makes her principle debut on the Arvada Center main stage shining brilliantly.
The jolly, hedonistic Christmas Present (Eric Leviton) shows him how everyone has fun without him. Leviton displays great comedic timing and brings the audience to rousing laughter by the end of the first act.
The Future (Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck) is a blind woman who points the way to the grave. She soars through the air, as Scrooge watches everyone dance and sing, unaffected by his impending death. The intervention works and Scrooge wakes up a sentimental softie. Hilsabeck, who is also the shows choreographer, shows the Future does not have to be a huge, intimidating figure to scare Scrooge into becoming a better person.
Reviewers are not supposed to be biased. That said, this is probably the most biased review I will ever write. A Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas tale. Who can resist a tear when Tiny Tim utters the words, God bless us, everyone. I know I cannot.
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
6901 Wadsworth Blvd
Arvada, Colorado 80003