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Broadway Review: “A Christmas Carol” at the Lyceum Theatre (Through Sunday January 5, 2020)

Broadway Review: “A Christmas Carol” at the Lyceum Theatre (Through Sunday January 5, 2020)
By Jack Thorne, Adapted from the Novella by Charles Dickens
Directed by Matthew Warchus
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

New York City has several options of entertainment that certainly succeed in spreading some holiday cheer, but there happens to be something special happening at the Lyceum Theatre that might capture your heart, make you smile, and possibly shed a tear, all in the spirit of Christmas. It is the Old Vic Production of the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol” adapted by Jack Thorne, and directed by Matthew Warchus. It is performed on a relatively empty stage without the distraction of lavish romanticized sets of old England and is quite dark with atmospheric lighting by Hugh Vanstone that creates exquisite paintings for the characters existence. Those familiar with the novella may notice a few liberties taken with the storyline but that does not hinder the emotional impact and only supports the overall design of this production. The result is rich in morality, complex in its simplicity, and delivers an honest and realistic message bursting with emotion.

Before the story unfolds a few musicians step onstage with instruments in hand to entertain as cast members in costumes roam about the theatre with large baskets of clementines and cookies, which they distribute to the audience. The simple smell of citrus as patrons peel the small oranges, invokes a warm memory of a different time and place with the proceedings enhancing the festive mood.

Then the classic tale begins with Ebenezer Scrooge (an imposing Campbell Scott) in his office on Christmas eve ordering his clerk Bob Cratchit (a vulnerable Dashiell Eaves) to work late even though he is expected home and his disabled son, Tiny Tim (a loving Sebastian Ortiz) awaits, to start celebrating the holidays. Scrooge dismisses carolers collecting donations for the poor and rejects an invitation from his nephew (a kind and studious Brandon Gill) to join him and his family in a holiday feast. Alone after closing shop Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased partner (an eerie Chris Hoch) who warns him he will be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, (the infectious Andrea Martin), Present (the compelling LaChance), and Yet To Come (a telling Rachel Prather) before the night’s end. They all appear and bring revelations that affect the temperament of Scrooge and instill a greater moral integrity. He is changed and begins to repent, becoming an honest, generous and compassionate human being. The end is Joyous!

The cast is remarkable, exhibiting all the skills needed to assure a beautiful holiday musical including forming an entertaining hand bell choir to delight with familiar carols. Costumes by Rob Howell are imaginative reflecting the era and his set design casts a haunting spell that evolves into an exuberant arena filled with joy. Mr. Warchus has carefully orchestrated the proceedings with the utmost consideration to physical detail and emotional depth of the characters without being stagnant.

As I watched a child in the audience interacting with the cast members preshow and participating in the festive activities towards the end of the show, her wide eyes and broad smile were evidence that she had been swept away by the magic of the moment. In fact, I can honestly report that nearly everyone was filled with a joyous feeling as they watched Scrooge learn what happiness he could bring to his fellowman. As the hand bell choir assembles like a Christmas card vignette to chime “Silent Night,” while real snowflakes fall, melting as they land upon your cheek, you become enchanted by the spirit of this miraculous season and this extraordinary production.


The cast of “A Christmas Carol” features Erica Dorfler, Dashiell Eaves, Hannah Elless, Brandon Gill, Evan Harrington, Chris Hoch, Sarah Hunte, Matthew Labanca, LaChanze, Andrea Martin, Alex Nee, Dan Piering, Rachel Prather, and Campbell Scott. Sebastian Ortiz and Jai Ram Srinivasan share the role of Tiny Tim.

The creative team includes Rob Howell (set and costume design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), Simon Baker (sound design), Campbell Young Associates (wig, hair, and make-up design). David Lober serves as production stage manager.

“A Christmas Carol” runs at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street) through Sunday January 5, 2020. For the full performance schedule and to purchase tickets, visit Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes, including intermission.

Photo: Campbell Scott and the cast of “A Christmas Carol.” Credit: Joan Marcus.
Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Sunday, December 1, 2019