Monday, December 19, 2011

QUICK TAKE REVIEW All Those Christmas Carols, God Bless Them, Every One By Beverly Creasey

I think I’d seen them all (but one): The Huntington’s, New Rep’s, North Shore’s A Christmas Carol: Each wonderful in its own way, all honoring Dickens’ genius. And now I’ve experienced the Hanover Theatre’s sumptuous production. Troy Siebels’ adaptation abounds with musical treasures and technical wizardry. Marley flies in to warn Scrooge! Thick fog pours onto London’s crowded streets. Menacing clouds churn and spark with lightening for ghostly effect.

Olde English carols fill the Hanover Theatre with song…and best of all is the organ. I was smitten even before the play began. There it was, centerstage, gleaming white with golden fleurs des lises… gilding the lily, so to speak. I thought I had been transported to the 1940s when Wurlitzers graced every theater and movie house. Music director Timothy Evans played lively dances from The Nutcracker ballet on that magnificent instrument and I was sold. Then it magically descended from view so the show could begin.

The Hanover production celebrates spectacle and the children in the audience respond to it. Not a peep, did I hear from even the smallest onlooker. For the grownups, Siebels’ version boasts some immensely clever touches, like the brothers of Christmas Present. The ghost always mentions them but I’ve never seen them before! And the surprise ending is a delight, as well. The Hanover production telescopes the action so that several scenes have been jettisoned. I didn’t miss Dickens’ lighthouse chapter but I did wish we had seen more of Fan and Belle. (And I wish the sound technicians could eliminate the unfortunate reverb.)

Dale Place as Scrooge undergoes a joyous reclamation after a harrowing night with the spirits: John Davin as the ferocious, airborne Marley, Tori Heinlein as the sweet voiced Ghost of Christmas Past, Peter Adams as the munificent Ghost of Christmas Present and the scary, silent Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, accomplished with frightening organ chords, swirling smoke clouds and Eric McGowan on stilts.

The Hanover Christmas Carol has many a pleasure, the Fezziwig party being one, with Ilyse Robbins’ spirited reels and Steve Gagliastro’s effusive wassailing to spur on the revelry. Micah Tougas, too, gives a memorable performance as the heartbroken Belle. Ross MacDonald makes a daunting Fred and Sean Patrick Hopkins a fine Cratchit. Bill Mootos, Meredith Stypinski, Laura DeGiacomo et al conspire to make this version unforgettable.