Review: The Rep's A Christmas Carol Brings Serious Holiday Magic

The production pulls out all the stops to create wonder and holiday cheer

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click to enlarge The ghost of Christmas present (left, played by Laakan McHardy) visits Scrooge (Guiesseppe Jones) in The Rep's production of A Christmas Carol.
T. Charles Erickson Photo
The ghost of Christmas present (left, played by Laakan McHardy) visits Scrooge (Guiesseppe Jones) in The Rep's production of A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol
, like the Nutcracker, is a Christmas standard, and The Rep has brought back its production from last year, with all of the concomitant thrills and delights. The show is just as sure to get you into the Christmas spirit as wearing an ugly sweater while drinking eggnog under mistletoe: that’s how Christmas-y it is.

Based on the novella by Charles Dickens, the story follows miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who runs a counting house with an underpaid clerk named Bob Cratchit. Cratchit has to beg to get Christmas Day off because Scrooge does not believe in charity, even at Christmas. The bah humbug–spouting Scrooge is then famously visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him that he better get right with Christmas or he’s going to be fettered in chains for the afterlife. Scrooge is then visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come, and he finds the true meaning of Christmas.

But, of course, you already know the story of A Christmas Carol and Tiny Tim and “God bless us, everyone.” You’ve probably even seen it or read it. Maybe more than once. But The Rep’s A Christmas CarolThe ghost of Christmas present (left, played by Laakan McHardy) visits Scrooge (Guiesseppe Jones) in The Rep's production of A Christmas Carol. is worth the effort to attend, not only because it has fun concessions such as hot chocolate, specialty cocktails and flavored popcorn but also because the show is a lavish production of a feel-good classic and imbued with wonder. The Rep, in other words, brings the magic.

In this version, dancers from Big Muddy Dance Company and others twirl, flip and fly around, while ghosts, furniture and more rise dramatically from under the stage. To round out the magic are beautiful costumes and sets, falling snow and shimmery bursts of confetti.

The cast includes Guiesseppe Jones, who as Scrooge, takes us through his transformation from self-important grouch to generous mensch who wants to host Christmas festivities for the first time in his life. Bob Cratchit, played by Armando McClain is immensely relatable as he nicely and deferentially tries to convince his bad boss to let him have a day off. But, certainly, the funniest character is Michael James Reed doing double duty as Mrs. Dilber and the ghost Marley. Mrs. Dilber offers the right punctuation of humor throughout a sometimes-heavy story and Marley's entrance to the stage steals the show.

Of course, A Christmas Carol is nothing without kids. The ensembles — led by youth director Adena Varner with choreography from Robert Crenshaw — shines whether the kids are rapping, dancing, singing or being Victorian-era street urchins.

Though A Christmas Carol is a familiar story, this production makes it new again.

Written by Charles Dickens. Adapted for the stage by Michael Wilson. Directed by Hana S. Sharif. A Christmas Carol runs at the Rep (Loretto Hilton Center 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; 314-968-4925) from now through December 30. Times vary. Tickets are $23 to $92.

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About The Author

Rosalind Early

Rosalind is the editor-in-chief of the Riverfront Times. She formerly worked for Washington University's alumni magazine and St. Louis Magazine. In 2018, she was selected as a Rising Leader of Color by the Theatre Communications Group. In 2014, she was selected as an Emerging Leader by FOCUS St. Louis. Her work...
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