Charles Dickens’ legendary tale of redemption, “A Christmas Carol,” based on his original 1843 novella, which he wrote after visiting the US, is a familiar one to so many.
Whether watched on TV during the holiday season or seen as a stage performance, the story has been continuously published since the first authorized theatrical version of Charles Dickens’s novella “A Christmas Carol,” appeared in 1844.
The novel, in fact, has never been out of print and has been adapted numerous times for theater, radio and television.
It is also its own tradition at A Noise Within (ANW) theater, first mounted in 2011, and now in its eleventh year.
ANW’s unique stage adaptation by co-director Geoff Elliott is also quite faithful to the novel’s narrative; word for word, in fact. At the play’s opening, the narrator (Frederick Stuart) appears as a sailor in a peacoat and wool cap and scarf, to read from the novel as we move through the production.
Given the story’s familiarity, the company’s ace in the hole is their production and staging, which is remarkable and innovative, from Trisha Miller’s appearance on a swing to introduce Scrooge to what lies ahead, to the descending chains that ensnare Jacob Marley’s (Jeremy Rabb) ghost as he makes his chamber visit early in the story.
The towering spirits that lead Scrooge through the narrative will also give young audience members either lifetime memories or nightmares. I’ll just leave those there.
Familiar cast member Kasey Mahaffy is luminous as the long-suffering Bob Cratchit, all too eager to please his despicable boss Ebenezer Scrooge (Geoff Elliott). Elliott is also spot on as the wealthy counting house owner, and in fact is far more believable as the miserable and sour businessman. (When he snatches away Cratchit’s gift from his cousin Fred [Mitch Connelly], it’s hard to resist going down to the set and giving the gift back to Bob. At least for me, anyway.)
The original musical numbers, composed by Robert Oriol and conducted by Rod Bagheri, are worthy of any Broadway musical, and lend the production one more level of quality.
All of the diverse cast members are equally sparkling in the robust production.
Following the production, audience members are invited to take to the stage and pose for selfies with cast members.
As co-director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott noted, “It’s a beautiful intergenerational experience. I think it resonates so broadly because, despite being a very sophisticated story, our innovative staging lets audiences of all ages experience it through the imagination of a child.”
A Christmas Carol runs through December 24. A Noise Within Theater, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, call (626) 356-3100, or visit www.anoisewithin.org.