Lively 'Christmas Carol' Will Cure Your Holiday Ills

By: Amy Tagliaferri

James P. Byrne as Ebenezer Scrooge and Dianne Wadsworth as Ghost of Christmas Present in “A Christmas Carol.” COURTESY PHOTO

“Bah Humbug!”

Got a dose of the holiday blues? What’s so special about Christmas anyway, you say? Sounds like you need a healthy dollop of Scrooge’s journey through the past, present and Christmases yet to come. The Cape Cod Theatre Company, home of the Harwich Junior Theatre, comes to the rescue by giving us Eric Hill's adaptation of Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol,” a welcome distraction for all during this busy time.

Director Jane Staab, with the theater’s producing artistic director Nina Schuessler’s blessing, spared no detail in this production. A stellar cast of children and adults, a captivating set and lighting effects, detailed period costumes and beautifully coordinated choreography make this production a Christmas present for everyone.

For the few unfamiliar with Charles Dickens’ story, set in a poor section of London during the 1800s, “A Christmas Carol” is about a selfish man of means who despises everyone. Ebenezer Scrooge believes he doesn’t need anyone and doesn’t care about anyone. He’s arrogant and he hates Christmas. One Christmas Eve, the ghost of his former business partner warns him he will be visited by three spirits: Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmases Yet to Come. How Scrooge reacts to these windows of his character is soul-searching to say the least.

Narrated by Dickens himself (the splendid Lou Maloof) as the carolers who open the show gather around him, the tale unfolds. The play revolves around Scrooge’s nasty attitude and transformation. James P. Byrne embodies Scrooge; you’ll cringe at his meanness and then sympathize with his anguish. Byrne masters every nuance of the role; he is Scrooge. As Bob Cratchit, Matt Kohler is showing Cape audiences that the CCTC technical director is also a talented actor. Kohler’s portrayal is spot-on.

Actually, there’s not a weak link in this cast of 28 men, women and children. Christmas Past (Emily Murray) and Christmas Present (Dianne Wadsworth) were fabulous as they escorted Scrooge through the tableaus created on the stage. Quinn Schuyler and Brendan Cloney were great as softer, younger versions of Scrooge in these scenes. Scrooge’s sister (Kate Paxton) and his lost love (Baylie Hartford and then Brittany McSorley) were touchingly sweet. And Tiny Tim (Angelina Manchuk) was downright adorable. Lily Pierce, Perry Gill and Scarlett O’Malley were noteworthy for their scene-stealing performances in the second act as the Watch, Snuffbox and Newspaper.

Some of the aforementioned performed other roles as carolers, townspeople and people in Scrooge’s visitations and more along with the rest of this talented cast (Jack Coughlin, Paul Anastasio, Rea Christakis, Tyler Brackett, Edward Donovan, Wyatt Falk, Ed Coppola, Jillian Annessi, Caleb Cotoia, Maya Anastasio, Sage Lach, Alice Murphy, Kathy Hamilton, Lorraine Blute and Emily Carr). They each added an inspired, detailed layer to the production. Behind the scenes but equally important to the success of this show were Byrne’s set and lighting design, Laurel Conrad’s choreography, J Hagenbuckle’s sound design, Karen Milkey (costumer), Alison Schuette (assistant director), Kate Paxton (stage manager), Rose Clancy’s violin and those in the booth and back stage. Kudos to you all!

This Christmas revisit the past and embrace the present. Bring the family to CCTC/HJT’s “A Christmas Carol.”

DETAILS

"A Christmas Carol"

At The Cape Cod Theatre Company, Home of the Harwich Junior Theatre

Through Dec. 30, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Vacation matinees Wednesday, Dec.27 and Thursday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m.

Information and reservation: 508-432-2002, ext. 2, www.capecodtheatrecompany.org