Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre A Christmas CarolBy Kari Kitts Rothstein • Dec 12th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre
Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre
Through December 30th
2:30 with one intermission
$42-$45/$35 Children 11-15/$25 Under 11
Reviewed December 8th, 2011
There are many different versions of A Christmas Carol. People have used a variety of methods to inject something fresh into the story employing everything from puppets to switching time periods. Although the show has some faults, Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol is ultimately enjoyable thanks in large part to its infusion of traditional music.
The story presented here is a very traditional version. Ebenezer Scrooge, the richest and meanest man in town, hates Christmas. Scrooge mistreats his employees, his nephew and all who come in his path proclaiming the happiness of Christmas. One night he is visited by the ghost of his departed friend and business partner, Jacob Marley. He warns Scrooge that three ghosts will visit him that night. Scrooge must decide how he’s to spend the rest of his life based on what they show and tell him. In this version, there is a very annoying device where characters echo the narrator. It’s very confusing, as it seems to not really have a purpose except to interrupt. Also the show’s Narrator will periodically stop the action on stage in the manner of “oh, it didn’t really happen this way… it happened like this.” Then the actors re-act parts of the scenes over. This became very tedious and sometimes took away from the genuine emotion of the moment. The audience is forced to wonder at many junctures is this really the way the story will stay? Also the scene where the ghost of Marley arrives was filled with too much confusion. The Nightfigures were distracting with their whispering noises and their movement.
This show features a large ensemble, which ranges in its abilities from very poor to very good. There was a major problem with the dialects in that not everyone had a dialect and not everyone who had one maintained it. Also, there were several instances where volume was a problem and some actors seemed unable to project loud enough to be heard. Lyle Smythers turned in a very nice performance as Ebenezer Scrooge. Smythers showed a good range of emotions and physicality that reflected the changes of his character. Ron Curameng was a standout as both Mr. Fezziwig and Old Joe with his animated face and boisterous energy. Holden Browne was an adorable Tiny Tim. Denise Bennett and Erika Zwiren were wonderful in their respective roles of Elder Sister and Younger Sister, providing a delightful with scene filled with humor. And Timothy Adams was a wonderful Bob Cratchit, and he handled the role with a great amount of earnestness.
The technical elements of this show were executed very well for the most part. The set was painted to look like a small English town with stone house fronts. The space was very well utilized even during scenes with lots of actors or dancing. The costumes were suggestive of the period and in most cases very lovely. The carolers looked Christmas card perfect. However, the Nightfigures were terribly outfitted with masks and costumes that were more like Halloween costumes than spirits. Some of the hairstyles seemed a little out of period. In particular, Belle’s hairstyle looked like a very modern hairpiece and nothing that suggested the period at all. The lighting design was especially lovely during the scenes where Scrooge flies with the spirits. It gave the audience a sense of flight and fantasy.
Hans Bachmann succeeded as director and adapter in creating a version of A Christmas Carol that is heartwarming and joyful at times. Scenes with the parties or holiday celebrations were very joyous and lively. The traditional music woven throughout gave the piece an engaging feeling. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” is especially well used at several different points in the script. Carolers before the show and during intermission added lots of warmth and energy. It also helped the audience really get into the Christmas spirit. However, the show seems to struggle at times from the conventions that the script feels labored with. The charm of the cast with their whole-hearted energy and the pieces’ great use of music make A Christmas Carol a show that is ultimately entertaining.
- Narrator: Chris Damanda
- Ebenezer Scrooge: Lyle Smythers
- Youngest Scrooge: Forest Browne
- Young Scrooge: Casey Fero
- Jacob Marley: Jan Forbes
- Ghost of Christmas Past: Aria Curameng
- Ghost of Christmas Present: Kevin Wiggins
- Ghost of Christmas Future: Samantha Nichols
- Bob Cratchit: Timothy Adams
- Mrs. Cratchit: Amy Wolf
- Martha Cratchit: Aria Curameng
- Belinda Cratchit: Jayne Saxon Zirkle
- Peter Cratchit: Jesse Forbes
- Tiny Tim: Holden Browne
- Fezziwig: Ron Curameng
- *Mrs. Fezziwig: Tricia Jarrell/Cathy Kidwell
- Fezziwig’s Daughter: Erika Zwiren
- Fan: Katherine Lipovsky
- Dick Wilkins: George Rouse
- Belle: Rebecca Cznadel
- *Bell’s Husband: Paul Caffrey/Benjamin Horem
- Belle’s Daughter: Jayne Saxon Zirkle
- Fred: Terry Barr
- Mrs. Fred: Katherine Lipovsky
- *Topper: Paul Caffrey/Benjamin Horem
- Elder Sister Denise Bennett
- Younger Sister: Erika Zwiren
- Caroline: Tori Gowland
- Arthur: Justin Mohay
- *Charwoman: Tricia Jarrell/Cathy Kidwell
- Laundress: Denise Bennett
- Undertaker: Jan Forbes
- Old Joe: Ron Curameng
- Solicitors: Frank Bennett/GeorgeRouse
- Businessmen: Frank Bennett/Tori Gowland/Justing Mohay/George Rouse/Paul Caffrey/Benjamin Horem
- Nightfigures: Paul Caffrey/Becky Cznadel/Tori Gowland/Benjamin Horem/Samantha Nichols
- Carolers: Terry Barr/Denise Bennett/Ron Curameng/Rebbeca Cznadel/Casey Fero/*Cathy Kidwell/*Tricia Farrell/Katherine Lipovsky/Justin Mohay
- Understudies/Swings: Tori Gowland (Belle)/Heather Harris/ Melissa Person Ward? Jayne Saxon Zirkle (TinyTim)
- *The various roles portrayed by Tricia Jarrell & Cathy Kidwell, and the various roles portrayed by Paul Caffrey and Benjamin Horem will be announced on the night of each performance
- The night of the performance seen in this review the roles were played by Cathy Kidwell, Paul Caffrey and Benjamin Horem
- Directed by: Hans Bachmann
- Stage Manager George Rouse
- Lighting Designer: Jeanne Forbes
- Musical Director: John Edward Niles
- Set Construction: Nathaniel Montgomery, George Rouse, Linda Shaw
- Set Painting: Jennifer Pelath
- Lighting Design: Aaron Forbes, Jeanne Forbes
- Sound: Giorgio Mazzarelli
Disclaimer: Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7459.
Kari Kitts Rothstein is an actor, singer, director and writer. She is a relative newcomer to the DC theatrical community. Kari has been performing since she was a little girl in church and began seriously pursuing acting in high school. She is a graduate of Emory & Henry College with a degree in Theater. The favorite part of her theatrical training was her apprenticeship at Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia. While at Barter Theatre she was privileged to act on the Main Stage (Eleanor: An American Love Story) and with the Player Company (Frog Prince and Just So Stories Two). Kari is currently concentrating on returning to acting and assisting with drama at her church.