A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens

Adapted by Kevin Moriarty

Directed by Christie Vela

Dallas Theater Center

Review by Doug Sturdivant


 

Seeing A Christmas Carol at Dallas Theater Center has become as much a part of the holiday season for many Dallas residents as putting up a tree. Even the shiniest ornaments dull a bit over time, and I figured this year’s production would be pretty much the same as always. I could not have been more wrong. This Christmas Carol is one of the most thrilling, uplifting experiences of my theater-going career.

If you have seen the show before and are thinking about skipping it this year, you need to reconsider. Director Christie Vela has taken the classic to places it has never previously been. From the very first scene where the amazing Tiffany Solano as Mrs. Cratchit sings to her beautiful multiracial children in Spanish, you know that this is not going to be your usual Dickens — it is A Christmas Carol for 2021. Beautiful, thoughtful, inclusive, frightening, joyous, heartbreaking, and life-affirming are just a few of the adjectives to describe this superb production.

Yes, all the scenes you expect to see are there, and Music Director Vonda K. Bowling has all her carolers in fine voice as they twirl and step- lively to the choreography of Joel Ferrell in Jen Caprio’s glorious costumes. And, of course, Scrooge has those otherworldly visitors who lead him to his eventual redemption. But this Christmas Carol is all about the journey and the remarkable ensemble that takes us on that journey.

Tiffany Solano and Lee George are touching as the Cratchits, doing their best to keep positivity and a bit of humor in their poor but love-filled home.

Gerald Taylor II is a gem of a Fezziwig, dancing and singing like a one-person Christmas band.

Molly Searcy is the Ghost of Christmas Past, who is the mother Scrooge never knew in this production. Searcy’s haunting voice and slow, mannered movements give the ghost an ethereal sadness.

Sally Nystuen Vahle, looking like a Norse goddess replete with antlers, is a scene-stealing Ghost of Christmas Present, sarcastically mocking Scrooge as she cavorts about the stage enjoying a party game.

Shawn Gann is a jump out of your seat, terrifying Marley and a delightfully evil Old Joe.

Olivia De Guzman plays Scrooge’s only true love, Belle, with tenderness and genuine sadness as the joy in her life turns to deep hurt when she realizes that Scrooge’s love of money has replaced his love of her.

Victoria Angelina Cruz as Mrs. Dilber gets some of the biggest laughs of the evening as she fends off what she perceives to be sexual advances of the newly reformed Scrooge.

In casting that adds layers of meaning to both characters, Amalia Diaz plays Tiny Tim and the abandoned Young Scrooge. The diminutive Diaz captures both characters distinctly and beautifully. And as the old miser Scrooge, Raphael Parry is a wonder. Watching Parry transform from bombastic old humbug barking orders at his workers to a giddy, childlike man filled with Christmas glee will bring a smile to your face.

There are many more surprises in this production than I have revealed here. I know that Director Vela is a horror movie enthusiast, and she does things with chains and shadows that will make grownups shudder. However, she is a romantic and a realist who molds her characters with great care, which is the beauty of this Christmas Carol.

As Scrooge reminds us at the end of the play, there is so much hate still in this world, but all those glowing candles behind him let us know that there is reason to hope, especially in this season.

Where:    Streaming – Computer, Tablet or Smartphone

When:     Now – Wednesday. December 29

Web:        LEARN MORE

Cast of A Christmas Carol

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