A gift- I have been literally waiting an entire year for a holiday gift that I have been receiving over and over for close to 20 years. Yes, I freely admit I am re-gifting a very special seasonal gift that comes around only once a year!! The Gift?- the magical theatrical production of The Hartford Stage’s “A Christmas Carol- A Ghost Story of Christmas” staring that loveable scamp with the “bah humbug” Flu, “ Mr. Scrooge himself. From soaring Ghosts, snow falling on Victorian London, to the ever loveable “Tiny Tim”, this 17th anniversary production, from The Hartford Stage ushers in a truly magical and so enchanting holiday gift in their exquisite rendering of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of redemption, renewed hope and a love for life that takes place, just like Santa’s annual journey, in a one night period. This seasonal production is a true gift wrapped in a bright red bow and will stir the holiday spirit within all, even those with latent Scrooge-like tendencies.
During this one hour and 45 minute presentation of “A Christmas Carol- A Ghost Story of Christmas”, time is of the essence as a large clock looms over the audience reminding them of the hour at hand and the impending choices that our “Grinch-like” Scrooge will soon be offered to make. I remind my readers that you should never blame your indiscretions on the consequences of eating a piece of underdone potato; you never know where they ultimately will take you. In the case of Ebenezer Scrooge (brilliantly portrayed by a radiant and effervescent Bill Raymond- he delivers a wonderfully nasty “Bah Humbug”) they take him on a nocturnal Christmas Eve journey of rediscovery that is conducted by three astral spirits who are sent to reform him, The Spirit of Christmas Past (joyfully portrayed by Johanna Morrison), The Spirit of Christmas Present, Alan Rust, who brings the house down with “oohs” and “ahhs” as he enters the theater bathed in a streaming rain of gold, and the Spirit of Christmas Future.
As I do every year, I want to once again singularly mention one cast member who is literally the “heart and soul” of this production, Noble Shropshire, who captivatingly portrays both the eerie Ghost of Jacob Marley and Scrooge’s amorous and most beloved housekeeper Mrs. Dilber. Shropshire’s portrayal of Mrs. Dilber is laugh out loud wonderful and a delight to behold- Bravo Mr. Shropshire. The cast also includes Curtis Billings as Fred, Young Scrooge; Robert Hannon Davis as Bob Cratchit; Rebecka Jones as Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Cratchit; Sarah Killough as a Ghostly Apparition, Fred’s Sister-In-Law; Johanna Morrison as Bettye Pidgeon, Spirit of Christmas Past, Old Josie; Michael Preston as Mr. Marvel; Alan Rust as Bert, Spirit of Christmas Present, Mr. Fezziwig; Noble Shropshire as Mrs. Dilber, Jacob Marley; Charlie Tirrell as First Solicitor, Undertaker, Mr. Fezziwig; and Gillian Williams as Fred’s Wife, Belle.
Director Maxwell Williams, has brought forth both an engaging and magical stage experience that even if a bit of the Scrooge has entered your life it too will be replaced by a renewed discovery of the true meaning of Christmas. Fans of “Christmas Carol” this year will enjoy a refurbished set; many redesigned costumes; enhanced flying effects and choreography for the ghostly apparitions and the latest in lighting design technology
We welcome these beloved Victorian characters including Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and our trio of spirited spirits and so will you. This is a superb stage presentation filled with outstanding performers who are having as much fun in their presentation as we are in being a part of the joyous audience. This is the perfect way to begin your holiday season and will leave you with a sense of childlike wonderment, a glow in your heart and a happy tear in your eye. Throughout this holiday season, I surely hope you and your family will take the time out of your busy schedule to sit back, relax and enjoy this superb production and make it a part of your holiday tradition. Enjoy.
Tickets for the Hartford Stage production of “A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas” are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (860) 527-5151 or by visiting http://www.hartfordstage.org. The production runs November 28th through December 28th. Evening performances are weeknights and weekends at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances are Saturdays, Sundays and select weekdays at 2 p.m.
The Hartford Stage is located at 50 Church Street in downtown Hartford with parking located in the MAT Garage, directly adjacent to the theatre. The theatre is accessible from I-84 and I-91. For information call the Hartford Stage at (860)527-5151.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howardbatv@aol.com