By Britin Haller
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s rendition of A Christmas Carol will make audiences forget previous incarnations of this holiday classic.
Forget about your favorite TV or film version (The Muppets!) and simply sit back and enjoy the ride. Producing Artistic Director/Chief Executive Andrew Kato and Director Mark Martino have created a spectacular holiday event, enhanced by Tony Award® winner Fitz Patton’s original music and arrangements that are both spooky and fun in all the right places.
The show’s illusionist Skylar Fox tells us to “Expect the unexpected,” and this Obie Award-winner, whose credits include Broadway’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is spot-on, because this production is totally a one-of-a-kind re-imagination of the Charles Dickens’ story.
For anyone not familiar with the beloved classic, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly boss who doesn’t subscribe to the theory you can’t take it with you, is visited during the Yuletide holiday by several apparitions over the course of a Victorian London Christmas Eve night, magically transforming him into everyone’s favorite uncle.
The timeless tale, originally published in 1843, has been performed so often the word “Scrooge” is now part of our vernacular, being defined as a selfish and unfriendly person who is not willing to spend, or give away, money.
Scrooge is one of the most widely portrayed literary characters ever, and actor interpretations of the man we see before Ebenezer’s big transformation vary between a crotchety fussy old geezer to what one reviewer described as a “genuinely frightening sociopath who isn’t just indifferent to the suffering of the poor, he delights in it.”
That’s the George C. Scott version, if you’re wondering.
Paul Carlin, the charismatic actor portraying this Scrooge, should know his character intimately, since not only is he bringing him to life onstage, he is also the playwright on this production’s adaptation. Carlin elected to play his Ebenezer on the kinder gentler side of the scale, and never comes across as a scary villain guaranteed to give children nightmares, rather likely only mimicking their grumpy grandpa. No Bah Humbug.
Nine actors play all the characters, some 50 in total. Carlin portrays Scrooge during evening performances while two-time Carbonell Award winner Wayne LeGette is the character during matinees.
As Jacob Marley, Curt Denham managed to appear especially menacing while suspended from the ceiling. Bruce Linser as patriarch Bob Cratchit exudes a pure loving soul that just radiated from him.
Lindsey Corey, who plays a variety of characters including Martha Cratchit, holds the audience spellbound with her lovely voice and was richly rewarded with a round of enthusiastic applause. She last appeared as Nancy in the Maltz’s production of Oliver!
The elegant narrator and violinist Megan Loomis keeps the story churning.
Eighteen local children appear on stage at various points, with a couple of young actors portraying Tiny Tim. The children’s handbell playing is especially enjoyable.
Any production of this magnitude also requires the input of many back-stage creative individuals. Intricate costumes that include LED lights have been specially created by designers Chelsea Tuffy, Brooks Behrens, and Kelly Wilkinson. Jose Santiago’s lighting evoked shadows and warmth to further showcase the range of emotions Scrooge goes through during his journey. Dialect coach Jennifer Burke brings a sense of authenticity. Set designer Riw Rakkulchon and special effects guru George Horrocks add to the story, with structures designed to look through, and haze, fog, mist, and yes, even snow.
Adding to the holiday atmosphere, the Maltz’s downstairs and upstairs lobbies have become a forest with an exhibit called Communi-TREES. In the spirit of giving back, 20 Palm Beach County not-for-profits have each decorated a different Frazier fir tree in the style of its mission statement. Those trees were donated by the Tampa General Hospital/USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
Throughout the run of A Christmas Carol, theatre goers will vote on their favorite. Sponsors Roe Green and the Roe Green Foundation will award the winning charity with an un-Scroogelike prize of $5,000 to further their mission. Each tree will also be available to purchase through a silent auction with all proceeds going to that organization. The public is invited to view the trees for free during the Maltz’s business hours and before or after performances of A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol is definitely for the entire family. Part of this reviewer’s delight came from listening to a child, who unable to contain his exuberance during the show, engaged in a somewhat non-stop running commentary with such exciting details as, “He has a bed!”
Out of the mouths of babes.
A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 10 at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, 1001 E. Indiantown Road, Jupiter. Running time is approximately 80 minutes with no intermission. Tickets begin at $50. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; 8 p.m. Saturday. For tickets call (561) 575-2223 or visit jupitertheatre.org.
Britin Haller is the Senior Editor for Charade Media. Her latest novel is Dumpster Dying by Michelle Bennington, available where books are sold. Find Britin across social media and at Charadebooks.com