Nothing brings in the Christmas season better than a good production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. And nothing says "bah, humbug" like a poor production. It seems every theatre company puts it on, with varying degrees of success. The Pittsburgh CLO has presented this classic for almost ten years, but it had begun to show hints of staleness in the last couple of years. David H. Bell, wearing no less than three theatrical hats (Director/Choreographer/Adapter) brings new life to the well-known classic, warming this old chestnut to the point that you may feel like you're seeing it for the first time.
The cozy Byham theatre is a perfect place for this show. Yes, they could have used more stage space, but to allow the audience to be closer to the action allows everyone to feel a part of this busy, yet intimate, production. Add to this a top notch, versatile (though perhaps stretched a tad thin) cast of players, a beautiful set with costumes of equal quality, and the evening perfectly launches the season of giving and should put even cynics in the mood for the holidays.
The supporting cast, though playing multiple roles which distracted and at times confused, was enthusiastic, energetic, and well suited to the occasional singing required. Stand outs included Terry Wickline, delightful as both Mrs. Dilber and Mrs. Fezziwig; David Crawford, best as Mr. Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Present; and Darren Eliker, as Fred. Tim Hartman was a likeable Bob Cratchit, though a bit too comic at times. The children did a great job, with Derek Scalera returning for his second year as Tiny Tim.
Pittsburgh CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol runs through December 23rd at the Byham Theater. Stage Adaptation by David H. Bell. Directed and Choreographed by David H. Bell. Scenery and Lighting by D. Martyn Bookwalter, Costumes by Charles Batchelor and Costume World, Assistant Lighting Designer Andrew David Ostrowski. Musical Director McCrae Hardy. Musical Arrangements by Rob Bowman. Starring Edmund Lyndeck as Ebenezer Scrooge. Also in the cast: Rachel E. Ayers, David Crawford, Paul Domencic, Will Dunbar, Darren Eliker, Molly C. Esposito, Leo Ash Evens, Sabrina Gutierrez, Zachary Halley, Courtney M. Hanley, Tim Hartman, Mitchell Jarvis, Anne Lauterbach, Jonah Ledoux, Rosanna Paterra, Patricia Phillips, Derek Scalera, Erissa Scalera, Amanda Serra, Ryan W. Stana, Emma Wagner, Terry Wickline, and Mark S. Woodard.