KC Rep presents “A Christmas Carol” with a twist

“150 years ago on this exact day” was the first line of the well-known play, A Christmas Carol.

It’s that time of the year, when the Kansas City Repertory Theatre presents this highly demanded play. This is the 36th season of A Christmas Carol, and each year it gets better and better.

Artistic Director, Eric Rosen, used a vivid imagination when creating this 21st version of the play. Although people say, “less is more” Rosen seemed to take a risk by turning this play from casual to creative. From a live orchestra to a wild revolving stage, this cast didn’t fail to put on an amazing and heart-felt show.

A Christmas Carol is about a wealthy businessman named Ebenezer Scrooge (Gary Neal Johnson) who became bitter after the death of his business partner Marley who died on Christmas Eve seven years prior. Ever since, Scrooge’s heart turned hard and he treated everyone cruelly, especially around Christmas time. It’s because of this that he is visited by four spirits, including Marley (Walter Coppage), who persuade him to change or threaten him with horrible consequences.

One of the most interesting parts that stood out in this play was that the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, communicated with the narrator at certain times. This is uncommon because narrators usually don’t have direct contact with the rest of the cast. Although they did talk from time to time, it was always brief and humorous. Another thing that was unique about this play was the revolving stage. It was like watching a live action movie right before your eyes. With each turn of the stage, the scenery, lighting, actors and mood changed.

Just when you think the play couldn’t have gotten any more active, “the ghost of Christmas present” (Rusty Sneary) walked into the audience with Scrooge. He then sprinkled “happy” glitter on some of the audience and gave candy to a kid and jokingly said, “your mom is going to thank me for that later.” Not only did he interact with the guests and directed the guests to interact with Scrooge, but imagine him doing so while towering over you, seven feet tall.

Even though the play was entertaining to watch, the cast didn’t want you to forget the moral of the story. Ebenezer Scrooge journeyed back to his painful childhood with the ghost of Christmas past (Cheryl Weaver). It was here where he faced heartbreak and isolation from his family.

He then traveled with the present-time ghost and realized how heartless he truly was. The pivotal moment in this scene that emotionally awoken him, was when he unintentionally stated something about Tiny Tim (Dominic Adams and Finnegan Jones), the crippled son of his employee.

“Well they had better die and decrease the surplus population!” said Scrooge to fundraisers for the homeless and helpless. The Christmas ghost of yet to come then appeared and put the icing on top of the cake. Scrooge saw how everyone would treat him after his death. Instead of mourning and sorrow, there would be joyous parades and laughter in the streets to celebrate the death of the town’s most evil man.

Ebenezer Scrooge woke up in present time on Christmas day and had a final opportunity to change his attitude towards life. He gave to charity, financially helped a homeless little boy, gave his employee a raise, sung with the carolers, danced in the streets, and visited his only living relative for a wonderful family dinner.

A Christmas Carol tells us not to let our past define our present or else we’ll face rude awakenings in the future.

The final thing the cast wanted the audience to grasp from the story was to turn your “Ah humbug!” into a “Merry Christmas to all and to all a Happy New Year!”

 

mtjgxb@mail.umkc.edu

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