As a proud lifelong Rhode Islander, there are traditions that are really ingrained in me. It’s a bubbla, not a water fountain; coffee milk is the only milk worth its salt and Christmastime means A Christmas Carol at Trinity Rep. I have seen this show at Trinity countless times. In fact A Christmas Carol was really the only play my Dad liked, so, growing up, that was the show he would get tickets for. Oddly enough, in the 10 years I’ve been a mother, I have never taken my son to a production of A Christmas Carol, and wowza am I glad this was his first time!
This year’s production is really a love letter to this Rhode Island tradition; if you’ve seen the show before, you’ve never seen it like this, and, if this is your first time, you’ll undoubtedly become a fan and want to come back for more. Now we all know the story, so let’s just dig in with the gems of this production.
Michael McGarty’s set design was fantastic, giving the underlying message that Scrooge lives to work. The lighting by Karin Olson was beautiful. I honestly can’t think of a better description. Some of my favorite moments were the eeries of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and the lighting during Scrooge’s transformation. Simply beautiful. Director Mark Valdez has created a production that is full of warmth, love, fun and nostalgia. I loved what he did with this show.
yonTande (Whitney V. Hunter)’s choreography gave the show an incredible facelift. Every time there was dancing, I didn’t even want to blink.
Recorded effects played a continual soundtrack to the show, but the live sound played by talented musicians was my favorite, not to mention the ever-changing choir. Trinity has brought Rhode Island in on this production by having a different choir at each performance. The night I saw the production, the audience was treated to the West Warwick Concert Chorale. Other nights will include the Du Music Community Choir, Providence Gay Men’s Chorus and the Hope High School Chorus. What better way to give the production that heartwarming feeling of community than by inviting the community to literally be a part of the show? This seemingly simple idea was divine.
I really love seeing Stephen Thorne perform. He’s always spot-on. I was curious to see how this would play out given that he is younger than the traditional Scrooge. Within moments of the top of the show, it was clear that there’s a new Scrooge in town. Thorne’s Ebenezer seemed almost crueler given his young age, making his transformation ever the more jubilant. Some of my favorite moments were with Thorne and the Ghost of Christmas Past, played impeccably by Tim Crowe. Instead of having a young Scrooge and a teen Scrooge, the ghosts inserted Scrooge into the action. Seeing him switch from miserable Scrooge to young Scrooge was a delight. This particularly paid off when he has to replay the event of Belle (Maria Gabriela Rosado Gonzales) leaving him. I’m not ashamed to say that it moved me to tears. And while we’re on the topic of Rosado Gonzales, a third year MFA student in the Brown/Trinity program, she clearly has a long and rewarding career ahead of her. Fred Sullivan Jr. brought his famous energy to the role of Christmas Present, and Addison Ralph played, hands-down, one of the freakiest Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come that I’ve ever seen.
Although this show is full of Christmas cheer, it has also brought back the original ghost story of the Dickens novella. You will leave the theater lighter than when you walked in. If you’ve been waiting to see a production of A Christmas Carol, this is your year to see it!
A Christmas Carol runs through Dec 30 at Trinity Rep, 201 Washington St, PVD. For tickets, call 401-351-4242 or visit trinityrep.com