You’ll feel like you’ve been to a really great Christmas party after you see the musical of A Christmas Carol rendered by the large, talented cast assembled by Landmark Musicals. Once again, having a live orchestra in the pit—Landmark’s signature ensemble led by Darby Fegan—makes all the difference. Coupled with wonderful voices, colorful characters, and dancing toy soldiers, the music gives new life to the well-known story.
Director Laurie Finnegan understands that this Christmas story tells itself, and so avoids any preachiness or pyrotechnics. She uses the Rodey Theatre stage well: Andersons to the left of us, Cratchits to the right, all the other fun stuff in the middle. Scenic design by Dahl Delu is Dickensian, yes, but he uses modern technology to project some background and tons of virtual snowflakes.
So the stage is set and here comes Ebenezer Scrooge, perfectly played by Ryan Shepherd. This song-and-dance man entertains us whether he’s crotchety, downright mean, touched by the past, or terrified of the future. Never does he rely on caricature. When Scrooge finally sees the light, Shepherd shows us genuine happiness and so allows us see Ebenezer’s humanity.
The four ghosts are standouts. Jonathan Gallegos as Jacob Marley’s Ghost is really scary; it’s hard to believe he also plays the mild Bob Cratchit, but he does, and just as ably. The ethereal voice and lovely presence of Emily Melville makes The Ghost of Christmas Past seem like the perfect date for Christmas Eve. Michael M. Finnegan is jolly and threatening by turns as The Ghost of Christmas Present, having a blast while playing the quintessential Christmas spirit. In the triple role of the Blind Old Hag, Granny Chuzzelwit, and The Ghost of Christmas Future, Samantha Blauwkamp chillingly links the three together with a mere pointing finger.
And then there is Tiny Tim, played by Oliver Groves, who has an angelic voice and looks like he came from central casting just to play this role. A Christmas Carol is his first show.
Every detail of this production has been rendered professionally, from costume design by Joseph Gurule to lighting and sound by Daniel Chapman and Simon Welter, respectively. Company choreographers Courtney Gianinni and Louis Gianinni know what a Broadway show should look like, and how to translate that high standard to a smaller stage.
This performance is a large-cast collaboration and, God bless them every one, they each pull their weight. If you haven’t caught the holiday spirit yet, this show will put you in touch with your inner Santa.
—Stephanie Hainsfurther publishes ABQARTS.COM.
Photos by Max Woltman.