This weekend, I went back to the scene of the crime, so to speak, of my last wonderful theatre experience, the Glendale Centre Theatre. I adored their production of “A Murder Is Announced,” and so was quite excited to see their players in action once again.
This time I was seeing a performance of “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens’ classic holiday masterpiece. I may just have a new favorite theatre.
The Glendale Centre Theatre’s production, which runs Thursday to Sunday evenings until Dec. 24, is a musical version of the show and was adapted by the theater’s own Brenda Dietlein. The fun begins as soon as one walks in the door, though.
The theater itself is a beautiful brick building, and the interior lobby has been transformed to resemble the streets of 19th century London. In addition to the usual theater snacks, they even have an old-timey cart set up to offer hot cider and other delicious holiday treats.
The performance was just as charming, if not more so. Glendale Centre Theatre’s productions are in the round, and the actors in the chorus and ensemble begin the show by heading out into the audience to bestow warm wishes for the season.
After this fun opening and a series of Christmas carols, the show begins in earnest. Similar to my experience with “A Murder Is Announced,” the closeness and the fact that the performance is in the round allow the performers’ actions and conversations in “A Christmas Carol” to seem much more natural.
Much can be said about the high-quality acting and the overall charm of the performance. This is especially true in regards to Mario Di Gregorio, who plays Scrooge, and has been doing so for many years.
The show has been a Christmas tradition at the Glendale Centre Theatre since 1964, in fact. Di Gregorio’s Scrooge, convincing both as a hated miser and a beloved benefactor, is a joy to watch. Many of the other actors are exceptional as well, especially Kelly Flynn, who plays Scrooge’s nephew, Fred.
What truly floored me, however, were the performances of the many children involved in the production. Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s poverty-stricken clerk, and his wife Martha, have several children in the show, all of whom hit their marks with surprising ease and conviction. The children in the ensemble were adorable as well, and looked to be true veterans of the stage.
It is often remarkable when a production has one exceptional young actor. For one show to have so many is nothing less than phenomenal.
The Glendale Centre Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” is a lovely holiday tradition that should not be missed. It is an excellent way to kick off the Christmas season and end the year on a charming note.
BRIAN MCGACKIN is an alumnus of USC’s graduate creative writing program, where he focused on poetry and literary critical analysis.