The Great American Playhouse began running its holiday show, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on Nov. 21 and will continue through until Jan. 4.
The classic holiday story follows Scrooge as he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. On his journey he discovers the true meaning of Christmas.
The play, which is put on by 11 actors, with some of them playing three or four characters, does not deviate too much from the traditional script. The acting is spot on as the lines were delivered with sincerity and believability and the singing was pitch perfect. All of the music and mood was created with the help of pianist, Mike Padilla.
The costumes, which were constructed very well and changed throughout the play, help to immerse the audience into the mid-1800s setting.
The set pieces were minimal, with a couple of desks and a door with a digitally projected backdrop.
Before the curtain was drawn, Padilla warmed the crowd up with song and music and reminded the audience of how to behave during a melodrama. When light, happy music is played you cheer for the good guy, and when there is dark and evil music, you are to boo the bad guy.
As the play began, the audience was soon given a few moments to cheer and boo as actors would be in favor or against Christmas. For the most part, the play took on a very serious tone as Scrooge, played by Sean MacArther, explained how he doesn’t like giving to the poor and didn’t want to give his assistant, Mr. Cratchit, played by Jesus Limon, the entire day of Christmas off.
In the next scene, as Scrooge drifts off to sleep, he is awoken by his dead business partner Jacob Marley, played by Nick Seivert. Seivert, who is also the director of the play, brought a few laughs to the play when a set piece was to slide across the floor, but only made it partially across.
Seivert, who played Marley, Topper, and Snodgrass, helped carry the play with his stage presence, comedic timing, and the overall immersion he brought to the stage for the audience.
One of the elements I found distracting was a bit of static coming from the main speaker, which came across as a loose microphone wire or a microphone that was being brushed by an actor’s hair or costume.
The olio rounded out the night with funny and corny jokes, with some musical numbers that included an energetic and sassy number about how Mrs. Clause can’t compete with how well she is taking care of all of the Christmas holiday needs. The audience gave a loud round of applause at the end of the play and again at the end of the olio. The Great American Playhouse did a wonderful job as it took a sincere approach to the popular holiday story.