No holiday season is complete without spending an evening with Ebenezer Scrooge, humbugs and all. Sol Children Theatre’s production of The Christmas Carol, onstage this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 16, 17, and 18, is a faithful rendition of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of moral transformation spurred by the kindness of Christmas. A sprinkling of carols and the use of local actors—both young and old—make this intimate dramatization a festive gem.
Director Christopher Mitchell teases humor and compassion out of Brian Way’s script, which greatly reveres its source material. Originally published in 1843, Dickens’ novella chronicles the evolution of Ebenezer Scrooge from a money-hungry miser to a philanthropic everyman, brought on by visits from three ghosts who force him to see the errors of his ways.
As Scrooge, Jim Gibbons is at once hysterical and thought provoking. He enters by interrupting a chorus of carolers, slinging humbugs left and right. He excels at being frightened—especially when confronted by the ghost of his former business partner, terrifyingly portrayed by Murphy Hayes—but is equally talented at exuding joy, as when he wakes up from his tumultuous evening to learn he can still change his attitude in time for Christmas day. Gibbons is particularly strong when opposite Jeremy Wershoven, who plays his kindhearted nephew, Fred. The dichotomy between Fred’s loving attitude and Scrooge’s hostile ways is often funny, frequently enlightening, and always a joy to watch.
John Maher as Young Scrooge, Jim Gibbons as Scrooge, and Constance Moreau as the Ghost of Christmas Past in The Christmas Carol.
Other cast standouts include Seth Trucks as the honorable Bob Cratchit, Constance Moreau as both the Ghost of Christmas Past and Mrs. Cratchit, and Jenna Wyatt as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Trucks is clearly a student of the theater, having attended NYU, the British American Drama Academy, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He brings both a mastery of his craft and a humane tenderness to his portrayal of doting father Cratchit. His care for his children is palpable, and he elicits tears from the audience when he laments the death of Tiny Tim.
Constance Moreau has her worked cut out for her, having to transform from the Ghost of Christmas Past to Mrs. Cratchit in the span of a 15-minute intermission. In addition to shedding a face full of makeup, she must switch from one extreme set of emotions to another. As the former, she is seductive and coy. As the latter, she is warm and motherly.
Jenna Wyatt brings joviality to the Ghost of Christmas Present, a necessary quality for any presentation of a character whose catchphrase is, “Come in and know me better, man.” Her cockney-inspired accent suits the role and lends an added layer of comfort to this ghost who lives but for 24 hours.
A true ensemble effort, The Christmas Carol showcases Sol Children Theatre’s mission to bring audiences not just a play, but an unforgettable experience. Though modest, this production is sure to brighten any scrooge’s Christmas.
If you go: The Christmas Carol, Sol Children Theatre, Boca Raton, December 16-18, Friday and Saturday 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m.