Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review of A Christmas Carol at the Long Beach Playhouse

Hiya!

Recently, my son had to attend a stage play for his high school drama class, and looking around on the internet my wife found that the Long Beach Playhouse was currently running their version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and since it was convenient we picked up some tickets. I was not super enthusiastic about this, but it really worked out well and we all had a great time.

The Long Beach Playhouse has been around since 1929, and during this time they have put on more than 1,000 shows, which is not surprising considering they put on a new show every three weeks. This really is a local treasure, and over 35,000 people. This company has their own facility with two different stages, and A Christmas Carol was performed in their 200-seat Mainstage Theatre.

This is the fourth time that these folks have put on this show, and it is different every time. The basic story is what you will expect it to be, but it has been re-imagined by Gregory Cohen with direction by 'Phie Mura
 and scenic design by Andrew Vonderschmitt. There are only ten actors, so they play multiple roles, and scenery and props are kept to a minimum to the point where the actors are the props and scenery at times (Lisa March did a fantastic job as the fireplace).

But, just because the production has been stripped in some areas this does not mean that the audience is missing out on anything. As this is such a small theatre it is very intimate and the crowd is drawn into the transformation of Ebinezer Scrooge from a miserable old git into a slightly manic do-gooder.

The play moves along quickly, coming in at around 90 minutes with an intermission at the 45 minute mark. All of themes of the original story are kept, and the actors are wonderful. Scrooge was played by Gregory Cohen, and he nailed the essence of the elderly miser. Other standout performance were Leigh Hayes as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Gary Williams as the Ghost of Christmas Present. And who could not love Carmel Artstein’s take on Tiny Tim! The other players did very well too, and there was hardly a flubbed line or missed cue to be found. You would be hard-pressed to find a community theatre that could do better.

The cast crew, music, staging and direction all came together and it was really a terrific show. As I said earlier, I did not really want to go but I ended up having a great time and it put me into the spirit of the holiday season. Long Beach Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol is a wonderful experience that is uniquely staged, and if you are a local I recommend that you get out to see it before it closes on Sunday, December 20.

Mahalo!

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