Theater Review: CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL (A Noise Within in Pasadena)

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by William C. on December 4, 2022

in Theater-Los Angeles

A HOLIDAY GREETING CARD COME TO LIFE

The story that encapsulates the spirit of Christmas perfectly has had countless adaptations, from The Muppets to Disney. This beloved novella, originally published in 1843, has stood the test of time and continues to be celebrated today. The film Spirited starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell adds to the ever growing list of adaptations of this holiday favorite. Yet “Bah! Humbug!” deserves the exclamation points with A Noise Within’s tenth annual production adapted by Geoff Elliott. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a visual feast perfect for a family outing this holiday season.

The allegorical A Christmas Carol is a tale designed to teach a lesson. Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser, is visited on the eve of Christmas by three spirits representing Christmas past, present and future. Scrooge is showed sobering visions, reflecting the choices and circumstances that led to his bitterness, as well as his bleak future — to die alone and unloved. The tale closes with Scrooge waking up the next morning, a changed man who treats others with generosity and warmth. In doing so, he becomes the very embodiment of the Christmas spirit.

What stood out in this particular production — aside from a delightful bell choir, snow, larger than life projections, and other numerous visual extravaganza — was the purist take on Dickens’ language. I particularly enjoyed the opening, which guided the audience to acclimate their ears to the tone and cadence of Dickensian English, delivered superbly with perfect diction by narrator Frederick Stuart

In his element playing Scrooge, Geoff Elliot is the totem pole of this entire operation as adapter, co-director and producer. It is clear how much he enjoys entertaining young audiences — his over-the-top flinching, shouting and laughter is a cornucopia of delight. And you can not help but let out a sigh of adoration at Aarush Mehta‘s delivery of Tiny Tim’s line, “God bless us, everyone!” It is just so darn cute.

The stage magic really could not happen for this festive show without a fantastic stage management team — the seamless numerous changes are perfectly called by Stage Manager Taylor Anne Cullen and Assistant Stage Manager Mikayla Bettner. Angela Balogh Calin‘s costumes are perfectly fitting to the fantastical world. The original music score and sound design by Robert Oriol brings a lot of nostalgia with the use of midi instruments mixed occasionally with delightful live handbells. Ken Booth’s lighting is dramatic and whimsical, and Jeanine A. Ringer’s sets really take the laurel by creating simple designs which help to shape the stage into vignettes of winter wonderlands.

I highly recommend making this production a part of your Christmas tradition. Not only is it entertaining due to a cast bursting with talent, but it may be just the antidote to your holiday stress and burnout.

photos by Craig Schwartz

A Christmas Carol
A Noise Within, 3352 Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena
ends on December 23, 2022
for tickets, call 626.356.3121 or visit A Noise Within
free parking behind theater at the Sierra Madre Villa Metro parking structure

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