Christmas -- that most wonderful time of the year -- is here again,
and that means holiday sales, sugar cookies and fruitcakes and more
productions of “A Christmas Carol” than you can shake a strap of sleigh
Charles Dickens’ 1843 chronicle of the Christmas Eve redemption of a
miserly old man is probably the best-known story of the season next to
the birth of you-know-who. And over at the Glendale Centre Theatre, the
36th annual production of this holiday heart-warmer brings glad tidings
to audiences looking for the perfect family entertainment, and maybe even
a little spiritual rejuvenation.
Guy Vieg stars as the skinflintly Scrooge, a man whose youthful
pursuit of money cost him his heart and the woman he loved. Vieg brings
out the curmudgeonly crustiness in this bitter old man, and turns it
around to childlike glee after he survives a night of being haunted by
the Ghosts of Christmases Past (a charming Brenda Dietlein), Present
(director Tim Dietlein) and Future (Jeremy Pyne).
Will Churchill impresses in his trio of roles as a Narrator, Charity
Solicitor and the exuberant Mr. Fezziwig. But Michael Wesley as Scrooge’s
beleaguered assistant, Bob Cratchit, often comes off as tired and
one-noteish, while David Dietlein’s Marley threatens, at times, to go
over the top.
One of the real treats of this production is the fine vocal work and
splendid harmonies offered by a Victorian ensemble of carolers (musical
director uncredited) singing a variety of traditional holiday songs. Also
noteworthy are the atmospheric lights and special effects (both
uncredited), which lend an unearthly feel to the tale.
Director Dietlein uses every corner, level and stairway of the
theater’s in-the-round setup to full advantage. The audience, therefore,
doesn’t just watch the show, they’re enveloped and gladdened by it. And
that’s a nice feeling to go home with.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; adapted by Brenda
WHERE: Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale. WHEN:
Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Saturday matinees at 3 p.m., through
TICKETS: $15.50 to $20.