Friday, December 13, 2013

Scrooge Returns to ANW

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  December, 2013  (This is a copy of my 2012 review of A Christmas Carol at A Noise Within in Pasadena.)

Christmas Cheer at ANW
Ensemble Cast for A Noise Within's A Christmas Carol
Alistair Sim may always hold first place for Best Scrooge in the 1951 film version of Charles Dickens’  A Christmas Carol.  Certainly, the production many years ago at Cal State Long Beach of Kenneth Rugg’s adaptation featuring huge pages of the story turning on stage to reveal in a pop up book the familiar chapters of how an unhappy man is led to understand the joy of living is memorable.  However, A Noise Within’s Geoff Elliott (Scrooge and the adaptor of Dickens’ story to the Pasadena stage) has accomplished a feat.  When Geoff and his lovely co-director Julia Roderiguez-Elliott got together for this one, the idea must have been to make it fun.  And, fun it is. 

Company member Robertson Dean, takes stage to narrate the story as it unfolds.   A wide variety of accents are sprinkled through the characters’ speeches, but all in all, the familiar lines and larger than life characters bring this old chestnut to life.

The ensemble shines. The familiar story unfolds with new twists and favorite members of the company take multiple roles bringing the Cratchitts, Scrooge and the Ghosts back from the dusty shelf. 

Mitchell Edmonds as Marley’s Ghost rattles chains that literally rattle the audience.  It’s broad and appropriate.  Clever set design by Jeanine A. Ringer accomplishes what ANW always excels at: efficient changes that become a part of the show.   The thrust stage accommodates moving platforms and set pieces that harmonize with Ken Booth’s intricate lighting to bring the story in beautifully in one act: smooth as silk.

Deborah Strang showing poor Scrooge his years gone by, as the Ghost of Christmas Past enters swinging.  Ebenzer has spent so much of his time toiling to make more and more money that it is only as Dickens drags him through lost love and opportunity that he realizes, step by step his sad fate.   He encounters Christmas Present (Alan Blumenfeld towers) and Kevin Rico Angulo as Christmas Future menacing and forboding.

The large protean ensemble members become revelers and harbingers of tidings, not always of comfort and joy.  Shane McDermott as Tiny Tim,  has only to recite his familiar line to bring the story full circle and leave the audience ready to embrace the holiday season. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
(Adapted for the stage by Geoff Elliott)
A Noise Within
3352 East Foothill Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91107
Through December 22, 2013
Tickets and Information
626 356-3500 ext. 1
www. A NoiseWithin . org

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