Fred Sullivan Jr. plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a cranky old miser who treats everyone with disdain, including his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit (Stephen Thorne). One night, Scrooge is visited by his deceased former business partner Jacob Marley (Tom Gleadow) who warns him of the impending visit of three spirits: the ethereal Ghost of Christmas Past (Elise Hudson) who descends from a moon, the irreverent Ghost of Christmas Present (Joe Wilson, Jr.) who flies over the audience on a wire, and the Ghost of Christmas Future (Ralph Adriel Johnson), an otherworldly figure.
Director Taibi Magar has succeeded at getting vibrant performances from the large ensemble. Sullivan is never less than compelling as the haunted Scrooge, who slowly morphs from a man whose spirit has been broken to one who has achieved redemption. This role seems tailor-made for Sullivan, who delivered a superb comic turn in Laughter on the 23rd Floor earlier this year. He is a master at physical comedy.
The supporting actors are every bit as effective. Gleadow delivers a memorable turn as Marley, who rises out of Scrooge’s bed in an eye-popping moment in the story. Rattling chains and sporting ghostly makeup, he is a terrifying apparition. Wilson, an engaging performer who most recently appeared in Ivanov, is one of the highlights of the show. Anne Scurria, who plays multiple roles, has some funny moments as Mrs. Partlet, who tends to Scrooge. Scurria’s comic timing is impeccable as she reacts to Scrooge’s transformation. The child actors are also impressive, especially Henry Siravo as Cratchit’s son, Tiny Tim.
This incarnation of A Christmas Carol is notable for one clever interlude that features Scrooge in some very familiar locations. I won’t spoil the surprise.
The joy of giving to other people is a timeless message and one which is worth repeating in this cynical age.
One caveat: A Christmas Carol contains some intense scenes and therefore may not be suitable for very young children. It is recommended for mature theatergoers.