Regional Reviews: Seattle
No Humbug, ACT's A Christmas Carol is a Gift Indeed
Also see David's review of Cool Yule
Dickens' tale of a hardened man's redemption through spirit visitations on a Christmas Eve was adapted some years back by ACT's founding artistic director Gregory A. Falls, whose tight ninety-minute version with most actors playing multiple roles still prevails. Director Alison Narver's version is straightforward yet fanciful, fleet-footed, and busting with bravado from a dream cast of actors. Her biggest score is the opening night Scrooge, Jeff Steitzer (alternating with the always wonderful David Pichette). Recently returned from several years on "the other coast," Seattle veteran theatre man Steitzer is a Scrooge and a half, running the gamut from sour-puss to sweetie-pie without a false or hammy moment. His joy after waking from the dream is perhaps the icing on his delicious performance. And a good thing he is up to the task, otherwise he might have had the show stolen from another NYC returnee, Timothy McCuen Piggee as a robust Spirit of Christmas Past, or Burton Curtis' glowering gem of a turn as Marley's Ghost. Eric Ankrim is robust as Scrooge's nephew Fred, Ian Bell a most touching Bob Cratchit, Sarah Grace Roberts an impish Tiny Tim, and my favorite Seattle actress, Anne Allgood, makes more of Mrs. Fezziwig and other small roles than you could imagine. The rest of the cast is able and energized as can be, and will doubtlessly handle the many holiday performances with ease. Christmas cheers to the scenic design of Shelley Henze Schermer which is as wondrous and creative as it is minimalistic. And the musical score by Adam Stern is both evocative and mood enhancing.
This production of A Christmas Carol is good enough to brave a trip downtown during the holiday frenzy, affordably priced, and short enough that it can be a delightful capper to a day of holiday shopping and dining.
A Christmas Carol runs through December 24th at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St at 7th Avenue, downtown Seattle. For tickets and more information, visit www.acttheatre.org.
- David Edward Hughes