THEATER REVIEW : Santa Susana Rep Presents Holiday ‘Carol’ by the Book


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That could easily be the guiding principle behind Santa Susana Repertory Company’s version of “A Christmas Carol,” which may not take any chances with Charles Dickens’ classic tale but handily evokes its heartfelt sense of wonder and holiday goodwill.

First-rate characterizations are the production’s strong suit. Blessed with a pinched, crotchety scowl as well as an ironically appropriate surname, Eric Christmas consistently delights as miserly Scrooge.

Another standout is Beau Billingslea as the gregarious Spirit of Christmas Present, a backslapping hedonist. Kristen Deitrick has a delicately nuanced scene as Scrooge’s fiancee, while Richard Livingston is suitably sympathetic as Bob Cratchit.


A politician with roots in the theater, Thousand Oaks mayor Jaime Zukowski makes a dignified presence as Cratchit’s wife--perhaps the ultimate symbol of the Civic Arts Plaza Forum Theatre’s dual use as a performance space and city council chambers.

Taking advantage of Santa Susana’s spacious new home base, John Garrick’s staging is a visual feast with all the trimmings. Roger C. Ambrose’s scenic cityscape features panoramic depth of field, though some of the special effects have an obligatory feel.

The adaptation by George T. Mitchell is scrupulously attentive to details, but it relies too much on narration.

* “A Christmas Carol,” Forum Theatre, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Wednesdays - Fridays, 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 and 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Ends Dec . 23. $17. (805) 374-8282. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.