Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas
There are two things one can count on during the holiday season in DC: the malls will be packed and Ford's Theatre will mount its annual production of A Christmas Carol. Billed as A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas, this year's production is especially delightful. Adapted by Michael Wilson, the piece is more energetic and fresh than in years past. Mr. Wilson has done an excellent job of accentuating the humor in the story without muddling its message.
Director Matt August uses a light touch to guide this production. He makes some very interesting choices regarding the placement of the actors. Additionally, the show is paced well and seems far shorter than its 90 minute runtime. If there is one complaint to be made, it is a minor one regarding continuity. A rather prominent piece of furniture is featured in Scrooge's room. It is removed during a scene change but it is never returned when the room is revisited. Nonetheless, the show still succeeds despite that minor flaw.
The show is cast with excellent talent. Martin Rayner's Scrooge is a spry one. He is delightfully cantankerous, but this is not a one note performance. His delivery holds the promise of something more. It is as if he is telling the audience that this old guy isn't so bad. Even his outbursts of "bah humbug" elicit a smile from many of those watching him. Michael John Casey plays his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit. Mr. Casey's performance is quite moving at times and seems to know his character well.
The remaining cast is equally skilled. Alix Elias (Doll Vendor/Ghost of Christmas Past), Jeorge Watson (Bert/Ghost of Christmas Present) and Carlos Gonzalez (Clock Vendor/Ghost of Christmas Future) all deliver memorable performances. Additionally, professional performances are turned in by the children in the cast.
G.W. Mercier's set is not what one would expect. The whitewashed brick wall transforms into an equally white depiction of London. The result is a set that is not too busy and it allows one to concentrate on the action on the stage. The costumes by Fabio Toblini are just plain fun. The designs draw a contrast between the Cratchit family and everyone else by costuming them in dark muddy colors while the other characters are dressed in bright colors. The lighting and sound design by Pat Collins and Michael Creason respectively is well thought out.
Ford's was daring in their approach with this year's production. Their gamble worked. A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas breathes new life into an old holiday favorite.
Cast List: Briana Lynn Banks, Clinton Brandhagen, Kent Burnham, Michael John Casey, Alix Elias, Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Goodwin, Bill Hensel, Amy McWilliams, Claudia Miller, Kip Pierson, Angela Polite, Martin Rayner, Frank Robinson, Jr., Saskia de Vries, Jeorge Watson, K.C. Wright, Kent Jenkins, Justin Pereira, Jackie Baker, Simone Brown, Spencer Deese, Marshall Swing, Natalie Perez-Duel, Allison Comotto, Gracie Terzian, Carl Wilson, David Grindrod