A Christmas Carol (TDT)
A Christmas Carol (TDT)
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Christopher Rohner
Directed by Frank Hilgenberg
Starring Tim DeBaun and Chris Pruitt and Erik Bendoyro
Theatre Downtown, Orlando FL
Well, the Ghost of Christmas Future is almost here; this production is the swan song for this location of the venerable Theatre Downtown. They’ve been here for decades and outlived more than a few other equally qualified organizations. What does the future hold for this haunted and well-loved pile of stucco and ghosts? My guess is a parking lot, a tower full of adminidrones processing inscrutable paper work for sick people, or may be just another Mini Mart. Orlando needs more Mini Marts. As local growth has looked out farther and farther for the 25 years, this organization thrived, but now that growth turns inward as developers work to clog Orange Avenue and Mills. Theaters and oddment shops and dive bars must retreat from the onslaught of condos; the hipsters and yuppies need more high rises and high rent eateries. Someone once told me “Theatre lives on that border line between where people are willing to go and landlords are willing to rent,” and that ain’t Orange Avenue any more.
Oh, the story? Pretty much the same thing: Scrooge (DeBaun) makes money hand over fist without even the pretense of good will while spitting on the destitute and working poor like his clerk Bob Cratchit (Pruitt). But a crack team of ghosts (Aaron Babcock, Brenna Arden, and Jason Skinner) selects him for rehab, hand him Epiphany on a Platter and turn him into Harriett Lake. He even sends Cratchit a spare turkey. If Darth Vader can end up in heaven, so can unfettered capitalists. Perhaps there WILL be a Miracle on Orange Avenue…
DeBaun appears bipolar, sometimes a bundle of nasty energy, other times a floating waif aiming for sainthood, but always a bit bigger than life. Prueitt is the punching bag of the proletariat: obedient, submissive, and even unwilling to complain when his wife (Christina Thurmond) demands it. The ghosts were all in good spirits: Mr. Babcock as Spirit Present was jovial and sported a head and beard of brassy red. Spirit Past was the gracious and elegant Brenna Arden glowed like Cinderella ready for a royal ball. A solemn Spirit Future played by Jason Skinner (doubled as Marley) kept a respectful silence like a good funeral director in a Lutheran church. Tim Bass played a bubbling, fizzing Fezziwig and it’s never clear why Scrooge never emulated this boss he obviously respected and admired as an early career money lender. The set (by Aaron Babcock) was as familiar and friendly as grandmother’s kitchen, and they even fired up the Theatre Downtown Disco ball – and its motor work immediately, just like it’s supposed to.
I’ll miss this building; I’ve seen over 100 of their shows here and even had a few of my own shorts done on that stage. Listening to Frank rant over at the bar was an education: a request for “his cheapest rotgut” launched him into a 15 minute lecture on the Wine Spectator’s scores of his popularly priced merlot. Frank and Franny claim there’s a 2015 season in store, and I can’t wait to see it. Maybe I’ll offer the ghost a lift, I’m sure he won’t be welcome in the halls of corporate medicine.
For more information on Theatre Downtown and its search for a new home, please visit http://www.theatredowntown.net