PROVIDENCE — Trinity Rep pulls out all the stops in this year's re-imagining of the traditional Dickens tale and succeeds beautifully in giving a fresh, new, fun look to the timeworn tale. There's everything you could wish for in this holiday production: fine acting, terrific direction, marvelous dancing, fabulous costumes, great singing, gorgeous music, splendid sets, howling winds, clunking chains, smoke and mist, a flying bed, snow, humor, charm, fun, surprises, adorable children, laughter, silliness and lots of hope and good will. You'll leave the theater with joy in your heart — and probably humming or singing "Joy to the World." Thank you Kate Bergstrom for directing a show so full of heart, magic and good cheer.
A festive — if not sentimental — atmosphere filled the theater from the very start and, with the exception of a few lugubrious moments (the veiled marchers for one) ebbed and flowed throughout the show. Artistic Director Curt Columbus, while making his usual welcoming comments, invited everyone to join cast members from "A Christmas Carol" to go a-wassailing through downtown Providence on Friday, Dec. 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m., when they sing their way to Kennedy Plaza for the tree-lighting at City Hall and community sing as part of the Winter Lights Celebration.
Columbus then announced that "A Christmas Carol" was being dedicated to the late Stephen Hamblett and to "longtime friend" the late Nick Cardi, "who embodied the spirit of Christmas in his life and work." Cardi's two brothers, Ron and Pete, joined Columbus on stage. It was a touching moment, and added to the genuine sense of family that can often be felt at Trinity.
It's then we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Trinity regular Jude Sandy, who is spectacular and plays the role of the miserly meanie-turned generous hero so poignantly and so well, you won't soon forget his performance. His transition brings tears to my eyes even now as I sit here writing and remembering his journey. And Rachael Warren gives such a rousing Fezziwig and powerful Ghost of Christmas Present, you'll be remembering her face and her lines too.
"Are there no prisons?," she asks Scrooge, repeating his words from the beginning of the play, "are there no work houses?"
Taavon Gamble, who has appeared in four versions of Trinity's "A Christmas Carol" does an extraordinary job as choreographer (the dancing was remarkable!) and as the narrator and Jacob Marley.
A.J. Baldwin gets to play three parts; Ghost of Christmas Past, Fan and Lucy, and is outstanding in all. But her arrival as Ghost of Christmas Past, with the satiny white gown with a trail that went on forever and at one point seemed to cover part of the audience, is the one that will remain.
Danielle Dorfman as Mrs. Cratchit and Belle is excellent, Haley Schwartz is a lovely Freddy, Ricardy Fabre is good as Mr. Cratchit and Henry Hetz is a fine Mr. Dilber and Dick Wilkens as is Mauro Hantman as School Chairman and Micawber.
Some of the funnier moments came when Stephen Thorne as Solicitor Gentleman, Exchange Gentleman ands Michael Rosas, (the other Solicitor Gentleman and Exchange Gentleman) back away from Scrooge in fear. And oh those those orange beards at the end.
Viven Thorne is darling as the daughter of Micawber.
Young Karyss Williams, a member of the Red Cast, who played the Turkey Kid, brought down the house, and Honesto Aguinaldo as Tiny Tim brought down the tears.
Catch a performance if you can, I promise it will catapult you straight into the Christmas season ... ready or not. It's triumphant.
For more information, visit trinityrep.com.