Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Little Theater of Alexandria A Christmas Carol

By • Dec 10th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
A Christmas Carol
Little Theater of Alexandria: (Info) (Web)
Little Theatre of Alexandria, Alexandria, VA
Through December 22nd
70 minutes without intermission
$15 (Plus Fees)
Reviewed December 7th, 2013

Along with The Nutcracker, Messiah, and It’s a Wonderful Life, one version or another of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an inevitable chestnut roasting in the open fire of Christmas season performing arts. Let us stipulate that it is possible to mount a serious production of the story, looking at the considerable psychological complexity of its protagonist, drawing parallels to literature that considers the dire consequences of living an inauthentic life (e.g., Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Illyich). It is likewise possible to infuse a production with contemporary social and political relevance, in a day when Scrooge’s manifesto on the utility of prisons and workhouses has all but become the platform of a major U.S. political party.

Put these thoughts aside. The current Little Theater of Alexandria (LTA) production has no such ambitions. The mercifully brief one-act, adapted from the Dickens story by Donna Ferrugut, seeks only to entertain, a task at which it intermittently succeeds. Elliot Bales, for example, has great fun as an over-the-top, Zombie-style Jacob Marley and an equally outsize jolly green giant of a Ghost of Christmas Present. Valerie Chamness is a cheery Ghost of Christmas Past, complete with an LED tiara and wand; one can imagine her spreading fairy dust wherever she goes. A trio of post-mortem scavengers cackle their way through Scrooge’s belongings in the Ghost of Christmas Future sequence. The many children in the cast generally hit their marks and are cute, which is all they are asked to do.

Nobody is really asked to act very much, though Gary Kramer as Bob Cratchit and Charles Lourens as Fred create nice characterizations in supporting roles. Fred C. Lash competently follows nuance-free Scrooge performance traditions. Many others appear to be reciting lines. Actors troop on and off-stage in routine fashion, and at times the pace of the piece stalls for an overlong sequence (e.g., Scrooge undressing, the “Roger DeCoverly” dance). The opening narration involves seemingly aimless shuffling about the stage by the ensemble. Accents are all over the map, from cockney to semi-RP to standard American to Pepe Le Pew French.

Costume designers Ashley Amidon and Kristin O’Malley provide period-appropriate costumes for the large cast, which look good but in some cases are remain far too clean for downtrodden Victorian London. The specialty costumes for the ghosts and Marley are highlights. Director Rebecca Patton’s set design is functional, with a fold-out section for Scrooge’s room that includes a red bedchamber with draw curtains into which Scrooge withdraws while awaiting his next spectral guest. Smaller units for Scrooge’s office and the Cratchit house roll out from stage left. There are a couple nice special lighting effects, a projection of Marley’s face on Scrooge’s door and an illuminated nameplate on Scrooge’s grave.

Dickens’ Christmas is not that of Christian religious tradition. Rather, it is the Christmas of trees and turkeys and parties and gifts and dances and warm family gatherings, a fact that has probably helped to ensure its continued popularity in our increasingly secular society. The underlying themes of A Christmas Carol — that caring for others is important and that it is essential to live fully in one’s in the past, present, and future — continue to resonate, and they have survived uncounted thousands of adaptations and productions over the years. Whatever the merits of a given version, audiences will continue to enjoy the story and come back for more each December.

Photo Gallery

Elliot Bales (Marley) Fred Lash (Scrooge)
Elliot Bales (Marley)
Fred Lash (Scrooge)
Gary Cramer (Bob Cratchit) and Fred Lash (Scrooge) Robert Ford (Gentleman)
Gary Cramer (Bob Cratchit) and Fred Lash (Scrooge)
Robert Ford (Gentleman)
Caroline Schreiber (Mary), David Ruppe (Topper), and Rachel Watson (Ruth) Cratchit Family
Caroline Schreiber (Mary), David Ruppe (Topper), and Rachel Watson (Ruth)
Cratchit Family
Hannah Runner (Martha) and Isabella Lovain (Hope) Valerie Chamness (Ghost of Christmas Past)
Hannah Runner (Martha) and Isabella Lovain (Hope)
Valerie Chamness (Ghost of Christmas Past)

Photos by Eddy Roger Parker

The Cast

  • Dick Wilkins: Benjamin Ashton
  • Belinda: Clare Baker
  • Jacob Marley/Ghost of Christmas Present and Future: Elliot Bales
  • Older Belle: Ashton Barnes
  • Mrs. Cratchit: Amy Bevilacqua
  • Ghost of Christmas Past: Valerie Chamness
  • Bob Cratchit: Gary Cramer
  • Young Scrooge: John Dewhurst
  • Pawnbroker Joe: Robert Ford
  • Young Belle: Stephanie Frazier
  • Mrs. Dilber/Ensemble: Erin Gallalee
  • Belle Girl 1: Kathryne Gould
  • Mother Cratchit: Pamela Johnson
  • Ebenezer Scrooge: Fred Lash
  • Caroline’s Husband/Businessman 1: Daniel Lavanga
  • Fred/Businessman 2: Charles Lourens
  • Hope: Isabella Lovain
  • Caroline: Christina Lyster
  • Ignorance/Belle Girl: Isabel Lyster
  • Want/Belle Girl: Seneca Lyster
  • Mrs. Pipchin: Suzanne Martin
  • Fezziwig: Bob McGrath
  • Tiny Tim: Griffin Melley
  • Mrs. Gezziwig: Michelle Newman
  • Boy Scrooge: Anders Ogelman
  • Girl Cratchit: Nicole Owens
  • Turkey Boy: Erik Peyton
  • Martha: Hannah Runner
  • Boy Cratchit: Charlie Ruppe
  • Topper: David Ruppe
  • Belle Girl 2: Natalie Ruppe
  • Mary: Caroline Schreiber
  • Ruth: Rachel Watson
  • Fan/Urchin: Madeline Zuppert

The Crew

  • Producers: Heather Norcross, Eddy Roger Parker
  • Director: Rebecca Patton
  • Stage Managers: Sherry Clarke, Benjamin Norcross
  • Assistant Stage Managers: Allisha Edwards, Richard Isaacs, Donna Reynolds, Adrian Steel
  • Set Designer: Rebecca Patton
  • Set Construction: Jimmy Hutzler
  • Assisted by: David Doll, Chris Feldmann, Jeff Gathers, Robert Kraus, Art Snow
  • Lighting Design: Nancy Owens
  • Costume Designers: Ashley Amidon, Kristin O’Malley
  • Sound Designer: Jack Seaver
  • Assisted by: Alan Wray
  • Set Painting: Mary Hutzler
  • Assisted by: Luana Bossolo, Bobbie Herbst, Patty Lord, Jayn Rife, Erin Sullivan
  • Set Decoration: Jim Howard, Susie Poole
  • Master Electrician: Liz Owens
  • Assisted by: Kimberly Crago, Jim Hartz, Robert Kraus, Pam Leonowich, Michael O’Conner
  • Property Designer: Benjamin Norcross
  • Assisted by: Tricia O’Neill-Politte, Elaina Phalen, Sam Poole, Susie Poole
  • Wardrobe: Margaret Snow
  • Hair and Makeup: Rachel Cecelski
  • Dialect Coach: Heather Sanderson
  • Special Effects: Ben Norcross, Art Snow
  • Rigging: Russell Wyland
  • Photographer: Luke Pinneo
  • Young Actor Coordinator: Heather Sanderson
  • Audition Table: Maria Ciarrocchi
  • Assisted by: Mary Lou Bruno, Jay Cohen, Phyliss Gruber, Barbara Helsing, Joanna Henry
  • Opening Night Party: Susan Barrett

Disclaimer: Little Theater of Alexandria provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been an active participant in the Washington-area community theater scene since his arrival in town in 1975.

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