The Christmas season has come to Dickensville, and all of the town’s residents are excitedly preparing for their favorite time of year—with one exception.
Returning to The Gaslight Theatre stage to kick off the holidays is “Scrooge,” a charming adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic, “A Christmas Carol,” complete with ghosts, life lessons and a bit of that indelible Christmas Spirit. While many of the mainstays of the Dickens’ tale remain, the Gaslight cast and crew once again inject their unique brand of slapstick humor and song-and-dance to create a finished product full of laughter, sing-alongs and warm family memories.
Firmly planted in ’50s nostalgia, “Scrooge” opens on a diner owned by the Cratchits, Bob and Gwen, played by Gaslight regulars Mike Yarema and Heather Stricker. Exposition comes quick in this one, with the plight of their ailing son coming to the forefront of the action: Can Bob and Gwen raise enough money for Tim’s medicine? Can they afford another operation?
The future looks bleak for the Cratchit family, though not all hope is lost. The good people of Dickensville, led by the effervescent Mayor Fezziwig (played by Todd Thompson), are on a mission to raise money selling raffle tickets to help pay for Tim’s treatment.
Everyone is chipping in, except for one old curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. Too busy counting his money to take part by the Christmas cheer spreading through town, Scrooge rudely turns away the opportunity to buy a raffle ticket—and the whole town just can’t believe it.
It’s not long before the ghost of a former associate (with the help of some spirited ghost friends) scares Scrooge into realizing the truth of his callous nature, and shows him the true meaning of Christmas, all leading to that ever-satisfying happy ending we all love around the holiday season.
Anyone familiar with the Dickens tale will quickly pick up on the story’s main players and plot, and find little surprise in terms of narrative along the way—though that’s not a bad thing when dealing with a timeless classic.
While the entire cast performs their roles admirably, the show is stolen by Gaslight mainstays David Orley and Joe Cooper, who manage to introduce heaping loads of laughter into the roles of Scrooge and the ghost of Jacob Marley, respectively. Pulling just about every face he can think of as he haunts his former business partner, Cooper’s Marley is the perfect comedic relief character in a story full of jokes as he employs his own sound effects and top-notch timing to add an additional layer to the performance.
As for Orley’s Scrooge, it’s not often that an actor will blow raspberries and stick his tongue out at the audience while portraying the crotchety Ebenezer.
Playing supporting roles for “Scrooge” are Jake Chapman and Janée Page as the young couple, Chaz and Felicity, while Erin Thompson takes on the role of Scrooge’s assistant, Miss Sniveling, and Jacob Brown fills out the cast as the reporter, Mr. Bosworth. Those are just the main roles however, as most everyone plays a second character throughout the performance (including a hip-swiveling ghost Elvis).
It wouldn’t be a Gaslight show without hand-painted backgrounds, fully furnished sets and a variety of gags. Once again, the production crew turned out in spades to address everything from the tile flooring in a ’50s diner to the fully-lit Christmas scenes. Throw in some top-notch costumes and it’s a surefire recipe for success. Plus, live music from the Gaslight Band never hurt.
“Scrooge” is written and directed by Peter Van Slyke, with musical direction from Linda Ackermann and Choreography by Katherine Byrnes.
And when the cast takes its big bow at the end of the show, don’t bolt for the door—there’s a musical performance full of country Christmas classics to wrap things up (and an appearance by the grandma who got run over by a reindeer).
“Scrooge” runs through Jan. 6 at The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Show times and more information can be found online at thegaslighttheatre.com. Purchase tickets over the phone at 886-9428.