By Karen Isaacs
What a wonderful holiday tradition Hartford Stage has given Connecticut with its annual production of A Christmas Carol – a Ghost Story of Christmas. It’s been going strong for 18 years, brought to Harford originally by the former artistic director Michael Wilson who conceived and produced it initially.
Over the last three years, the production has been refurbished and revitalized; even Victorian costumes can look worn after all those performances. The project is now completed and the full, glorious effect of it can be seen.
The script hasn’t changed; it opens with a parade of ghosts before launching into the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his reclamation by visitations from the spirits of Christmas past, present and yet-to-be.
What has been changed or “been refurbished” is the backdrop of Victorian London, costumes, lighting effects which are even more ghostly and the flying. Even Marley soars during his visitations to Scrooge.
The cast has also been beefed up with more students from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford and more area children. It makes the stage seem fuller.
While many cast members remain the same year after year, this year some new comers add to the production.
Once again Bill Raymond is Scrooge. This year, Raymond — a gifted actor and a marvelous clown – sometimes goes for the easy laugh (perhaps to appease the younger audience members) but yet you do see him becoming aware of all he has missed by his actions over the years. He truly did seem like a humanity hating, money loving miser though occasionally he was more like an eccentric uncle. More than most years, I felt sorry for the man.
The Spirits are played by three “old timers”;Johanna Morrison and Alan Rust. Michael Preston who is terrific as Mr. Marvel Still a delight is Nobel Shropshire as Mrs. Dilber and Jacob Marley. Robert Hannon Davis is terrific as Bob Cratchit. Among the new members of the cast, Kristen Adele as Mrs. Fezziwig and Mrs. Cratchit added warmth and Terrell Donnell Sledge played Scrooge’s nephew Fred as well as the young Scrooge. Two children (Norah Girard and Max McGowan) alternate as Tiny Tim.
Hope Clarke has done the effective choreography with the ghosts who punctuate the production in their eerie costumes that indicate their causes of death.
Special recognition should be given to Maxwell Williams who lovingly directed it, ZFX, Inc. for handled the flying effects, lighting designer Robert Wierzel, costume designer Alejo Vietti and scenic designer Tony Straiges.
My high school granddaughter has seen this production about eight times, yet every Christmas she looks forward to seeing it again.
Young children may find the ghosts scary but children from 7 and up and their adults will thoroughly enjoy this magical production.
A Christmas Carol- A Ghost Story of Christmas is at the Hartford Stage Company, 50 Church St, Hartford, through Sunday, Dec. 27. For tickets and information, call the box office at 860-527-5151 or visit HartfordStage.org.
This content is courtesy of Shore Publications and zip06.com.