A Christmas Carol
Orlando Shakes, Orlando FL
Adapted and Directed by Jim Helsinger
Music Composed and Arranged by Michael Andrew
-bb Musical Direction by John C. Cavazos
Choreography by Joy Andersen
Starring Nigel Gore, Mark Edward Smith, Timothy Williams, and E. Mani Cadet
by Carl F. Gauze
The Covid fallout is wide and far reaching: This is the ONLY Christmas Carol I’m seeing this season. But it’s a beauty: all our top actors, all the Shakes scene shop tricks available, great sound, and the trap door was used more tonight than in every other show I’ve ever seen in the Margeson. If you don’t know the story, I would ask what melting glacier have you been living under for the past decades? Our anti-Hero Ebenezer (Gore) bludgeons capitalism to a fine art, his over worked and under paid clerk (or “Clark” if you’re authentic) receives six copper pennies and a dead rat every week. Cratchit’s over-sized family is hard working, honest, and brave, and they do it on less in spending power than one trip to Starbucks. Supernatural apparitions do what Christianity could not: scare Scrooge with his own mortality and the probable ignominy of no one coming to his wake. It takes the treat of obscurity to wake him into acting like a decent human and letting Cratchit heat the office to the point the ink stop’s freezing in the ink pot.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of this classic presentation. The story is about as true to the original text as possible, and even makes mention of a normally deleted supernatural flight to a light house and boat out at sea in a storm. The cast is full of Shake’s “A” listers yet offers room for a large infusion of new talent that gives the story a pan-racial impact. All those expensive rotating stags, trap door drops, and snow machines get a workout, as well as the tight acting and an unembellished attention to the original text. There not a lot on the cons side other than it’s a bit complex for small children and some of the audience members (I’m pointing at YOU, seat D101 center) have their phones out and on most of the show. For Gods sake, you’re here to escape reality, not check out our Farmville status. Another thing to note: the bar doesn’t take cash anymore. Shakes also created fun holiday set up in the round room (AKA Purple venue) and the gift shop has lots of cute stuff for people who lack enough clutter on their shelves. If nothing else, this Christmas Carol shows us just about every stage trick possible short of fire eating or human sacrifice here in Orlando. Go give this show some love, it’s the first Xmas carol I’ve really enjoyed in many a year. And now that competing event across the bricks at OMA is over with, getting parking is way simpler than at Fringe.