Campbell Scott Photo: Joan Marcus
The spirit of giving, redemption, Christmas and Peace on Earth lives in the Old Vic’s production of A Christmas Carol. As you enter the theatre, the cast minus Scrooge, toss cookies and mandarin oranges to the audience. The band thanks to Christopher Nightingale (composer/orchestrator/arranger) plays carols of old, as the theatre is festive and haunting lit by lanterns thanks to Hugh Vanstone.
This age old ghost story, has been adapted by Jack Thorne to keep it more up to date. Personally, I like the timeless version. Matthew Warchus’ direction and Rob Howell’s sets keep bringing out boxes from the floor and door frames that rise and fall to make desks and chairs. They have kept the stage minimalistic except for the junk piles surrounding the sides and the back of the stage. I never did figure out why that was there. However when it comes time to feast and share ones bounty, it soars from the rafters.
Enter Ebenezer Scrooge (a fabulous Campbell Scott), whose thoughtless ways bring on this tale of haunting is made to examine his life. First up is his partner Marley (Chris Hoch), then Ghost of Christmas Past (Andrea Martin), followed by the Ghost of Christmas Present ( a Jamaican accented LaChanze) and finally the Ghost of The Future to come, that at first is multi-figured, then turns into his sister Fan (Rachel Prather).
Throughout the scenes ingeniously are Christmas carols, that tell the story in gloriously sung song thanks to music coordinator Howard Joines and music director Michael Gacetta. Their presence helps with the bizarre accents, the sometimes not so wonderful costumes and strange flaws in the script.
Despite these flaws, there is the goodness, compassion, heart and the true meaning of Christmas. As the show asked for money for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS and Hearts of Gold, a charity that helps homeless mothers and their childrenby helping them to stay together and transition out of New York City shelter system to permanent homes, both my guest and I reached deep into our pockets.
If you have felt that you have lost the holiday spirit or want to remember what it was, A Christmas Carol should be on your list.
A Christmas Carol: Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street until Jan 5th.