Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

A Christmas Carol

elite Dance & Theatre
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Paul Costales
Photo by Two Brunos Photography
If you are looking to put Christ back into Christmas you need look no further than elite Dance & Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol. Our popular culture today offers a steady diet of Santa Claus and candy canes, cookies and presents, but this production remembers the origin of the holiday and is infused with thankfulness and grace. Indeed, Ebenezer Scrooge finds redemption, is transformed, heeds the call, and steps into the light. This is felicitous for a company that focuses on family values and incorporates multi-generational, age-appropriate casting.

Cheri Costales, the adaptor and director, has re-mounted this staple of the company's production repertory. Like many companies in Albuquerque and elsewhere, a holiday offering is the same each year, like an old friend returning to help celebrate Christmas. This production follows the formula of elite shows, as Ms Costales is the driving artistic force behind them all. There is comfort in the mixture of dance, music, and spoken word format.

As befits a company that originated as a dance studio, movement and dance are dominant, with traditional and outstanding original music also strong. The dialogue and acting for A Christmas Carol is stronger than in some other elite productions. All the elements mix well and provide a satisfying evening in the theater.

Elite places emphasis on ensemble and on nurturing a company of artists. Though nearly all performers are strong and up to their roles, some actors, singers and dancers stand out. Paul Costales brings an understated dignity to the role of Scrooge. His Scrooge is less villainous and more totally self-absorbed in his selfishness. The pivotal scene with Isaac Garcia as Marley is particularly moving and sets up the rest of the action of the play. Costales makes the transition to altruistic Scrooge believable.

As Fred, a nephew to Scrooge and our master of ceremonies for the evening, Alex Harden has a wonderful singing voice and an easy affability. The three ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come are well played by Tianna Cooney, Cara Sowers, and McKenna Beck. Tianna brings strong physical elements to the role and Cara's singing voice is used well. Tim Nguyen as Bob Crachit is full of goodness without being cloying, and he is well balanced by Coryn Richey as Mrs. Crachit. Micah Weeks as Tiny Tim has a sparkle in his eyes that tugs at the heartstrings.

The technical aspects of the production are generally well done. Because elite incorporates large ensemble dance pieces, the stage elements are minimal. The staging could use a few more set pieces to suggest locations. Costumes are cunningly adapted from traditional dancewear and serve the actor/dancers well. The choral music is professionally executed with some stunning harmony and a cappella moments. The recorded original instrumental music is haunting and atmospheric.

Elite Dance & Theatre uses dance and movement to reinforce the emotional truth of the action. The three large dance ensemble pieces are done very well. They bring a much needed dose of spectacle to the Albuquerque theatre scene. Elite is a treasure for family theater.

A Christmas Carol runs through December 14, 2019, at the North Fourth Theater 4904 4th St. NW, Albuquerque NM. Tickets are $21 and $23. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. For tickets and information, please call 505-440-0434 or visit

The Cast: Paul Costales, Tianna Cooney, Cara Sowers, McKenna Beck, Alex Harden, Tim Nguyen, Coryn Richey, Micah Weeks,Tanner Tomingas, Savannah Harden, Ava Sowers, Sam Hafenrichter, Gabriel Zubiate, Isaac Garcia, Kaedman Hardy, Lindsay Hafenrichter, Megan Othling, Kristen Nguyen, Caitlyn Richey, Gia Hart, and members of the Elite Company