Review: A Christmas Carol (Ross Petty Productions)

A Christmas Carol is a “wonderfully goofy” take on the Dickens’ classic, now on stage in Toronto

Produced by Ross Petty, A Christmas Carol— on stage at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre — is a colourful and silly take on the Charles Dickens classic. As you may know, the miser Ebenezer Scrooge meets his dead friend Marley who warns him that Scrooge will be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future. These meetings turn out to be transformative for Scrooge: he ends up becoming generous and loving.

The play begins with the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and we see a lot of good-looking people smiling and dancing and a lot of multi-layered purple and red skirts twirling in the air. This sweetness gets turned upside down though once the song turns into a wilder rock ‘n’ roll. This is just the beginning of us getting thrown off guard.

Ebezener Scrooge (Cyrus Lane) is more than just grumpy. He’s a swindler who loves his money as if it were family. The large bags of different currencies on the stage were nicely comic, and it was funny to see that one little bag of money was his beloved Tiny Tim. It was also amusing to watch Scrooge being played in such a nimble manner — he does his fair share of jumping, spinning and rolling around. He also enjoys poking fun at us, calling the kids in the audience “puny pathetic pipsqueaks.”

Scrooge’s assistant Jane (extraordinary AJ Bridel) gives the play a feminist slant as she pickets for equal pay for women. This is one of many examples in which A Christmas Carol is tied to current events. Bridel makes magic — her singing, dancing and acting seem to be beyond human capacity.

One of the most hilarious twists in A Christmas Carol is that Jacob Marley (David Lopez) is not the Jacob Marley one would expect. Marley has dreadlocks, speaks with a Jamaican accent, and admits to having “shot the sheriff.” I found it be so amusing that Jacob Marley had taken the form of the Marley behind “One Love.”

Not only does Jacob Marley get a weird makeover, but so do the three ghosts who come to life via Plumbum (Dan Chameroy). She is self-deprecating, awkward, outspoken and downright funny. Plumbum leads one of my favourite scenes in which she does nifty moves with zombies to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

I asked my little guest which part he liked most about A Christmas Carol: he said he liked it when Jack (Kyle Golemba) took off his glasses, revealing his true self, and then threw his backpack away behind the stage curtains, and we heard the sound of objects breaking. This type of slapstick humour was non-stop.

For fear of revealing too many goodies, I won’t go on and on about how much I enjoyed A Christmas Carol and the upbeat music, silly jokes and clever references to today’s ills. I’ll end by saying that I think everybody will have a blast watching this wonderfully goofy play.

Details:

  • A Christmas Carol is playing at The Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge St.) until December 31, 2017
  • Performances run December 6 to 10, 15 to 17, 19 to 24 and 26 to 31 at various times. Check website for the schedule.
  • Ticket prices range from $27 to $85.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, at the Box Office in person or by calling 1-855-599-9090.

Photo of Dan Chameroy and Cyrus Lane by Racheal McCaig.

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