Under the direction of James Black, the cast brings the spellbinding and magical play to life. James Black perfectly captures the creepy ambience that one would expect from a ghost story, especially with the opening sequence with the six apparitions from various historical periods dancing around and frightening Ebenezer Scrooge. As the show progresses, James Black ensures that every joke earns a great laugh-I would even go as far as saying that James Black adds more emphasis to the humor present in the script than Michael Wilson did when I last saw the play in 2006. Lastly, James Black's direction also sends the audience out with warm hearts and big smiles.
Hope Clarke's choreography of the six apparitions is unnerving. As they cavort around the stage to John Gromada's original and haunting score and claps of thunder, they successfully spook the audience time and time again.
Jeffrey Bean's take on Ebenezer Scrooge is subtly complex and wonderfully articulated. There is no denying that Jeffrey Bean can chew scenery like its no one's business, so it was really refreshing to see him drop the caricature for strong, fully-realized character. However, after the climatic moments of the show Jeffrey Bean did get to offer some scenery chewing in a tangibly realistic way-what over joyous and redeemed Scrooge wouldn't have a taste of over-the-top flair? Likewise, he makes his character's dynamic change and arc palpable for the audience, entertaining and teaching them every step of the way.
John Fletch's double duty as Mrs. Dilber and Jacob Marley is pristine. As Mrs. Dilber, he is pure comedic genius. John Fletch earns hearty guffaw after hearty guffaw. Yet, his Jacob Marley is terrifying. The audience, myself included, is completely startled by John Fletch's chilling entrance from the under the floor-jumping with a fun and finely tuned fright.
Elizabeth Bunch as Mary Pidgeon, a doll vender, and as Spirit of Christmas Past is charming and sweet. Her Mary Pidgeon is a joy to watch, showcasing elements of kindness and respect that her turn as Spirit of Christmas Past really gets to delve into. The Spirit of Christmas Past shows Ebenezer Scrooge all the joys and hardships that made him who he was, in addition to the heart(s) he broke along the way. She is sugary sweet, almost saccharine, in her jovial, loving nature.
Bert, a fruit and cider vendor, and Spirit of Christmas Present, played by David Rainey is fantastically humorous, buoyant, and jolly. He shows Ebenezer all the great things that are happening in the present. He highlights how if Scrooge was more friendly and pleasurable to be around that he could celebrate enjoy from the holidays like everyone else, even the poor. With an infectious laugh and glowing personality, this Spirit is one that that everyone can love. Yet, the gravity of his message is made clear in his final moments, when he drops his merry façade and introduces Ebenezer Scrooge to Ignorance and Want.
With delightful and inspired industrial revolution verve, Declan Mooney's Mr. Marvel and Spirit of Christmas Future is alluring and creepy. Mr. Marvel's inventions and way of thinking, portrayed by Declan Mooney, are fascinating and intriguing; however, this same ingenuity is foreboding and discomforting when he plays the silent Spirit of Christmas Future. I really enjoyed his take on Mr. Marvel, but his short stature did not come close to having the same effect as Justin Doran's imposing height, in addition to the height of the bike, did for the unsettling, frightening appearance of the Spirit of Christmas Future in 2006.