Theater Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL (A.C.T.)

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by Chuck Louden on December 10, 2022

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


For two generations, a yearly outing to see A Christmas Carol has been a feel-good tradition for San Francisco families. American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) has staged adaptations of this famous Dickens story continuously since 1976, with few gaps until COVID, changing up the production on a regular basis to keep it from getting stale. Right along with attending SF Ballet’s The Nutcracker and watching the big Christmas tree light up in Union Square, witnessing Scrooge’s transformation from bitter old miser to generous and cuddly geezer meant the holidays were finally here.

James Carpenter (Scrooge)

For many locals, A Christmas Carol was their first exposure to live theater, and they loved the experience so much that they now bring their own kids to continue the tradition. Now, this Bay Area perennial favorite — adapted by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff and directed here by Peter J. Kuo — is playing through December 24 at the newly renamed Geary Theater, now the Toni Rembe Theatre.

Brian Herndon and Sharon Lockwood (Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig)

James Carpenter returns in the pivotal role of Ebenezer Scrooge. A veteran of numerous Shakespeare productions, he has the range and depth to capture Scrooge’s movements and his contained emotions. There is something genuinely menacing and villainous about this bitterly cold-hearted man, especially the growling inflection for the infamous retort, “Bah Humbug”.

Dan Hiatt (Ghost of Jacob Marley)

Over 40 actors make up the diverse and multi-generational cast, and there are several standouts, including Dan Hiatt as the Ghost of Jacob Marley and Catherine Castellanos shining as the effervescent Ghost of Christmas Present perched on her swing in a lit-up white dress. Fan favorite Sharon Lockwood has performed her roles with sure-footed comic relief as Scrooge’s housekeeper Mrs. Dilber and Mrs. Fezziwig for 15 years — she steals every scene she’s in.

Catherine Castellanos (Ghost of Christmas Present)
and James Carpenter (Scrooge)

As an annual viewer of this holiday favorite, I appreciate the consistent quality of the show year after year, the delight of which will reform any Scrooge.

photos by Kevin Berne

A Christmas Carol
A.C.T.’s Toni Rembe Theatre, 415 Geary Street in San Francisco
ends on December 24, 2022
for tickets, call 415-749-2228 or visit A.C.T.

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