Before you read another word, I want to be on record: I hate Christmas carols. They belong in one of those time-lock safes that opens one week before Christmas Day and not a moment after December 26 at 11:59 PM.
But like Ebeneezer Scrooge, my heart is reluctantly thawed after seeing The Longmont Theatre Company’s production of A Christmas Carol. It wasn’t until I caught myself walking home humming The First Noel that I realized how good the show was. This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic is more faithful to the original story line than the version I grew up with, deviating only to tug on your heartstrings with a few brief musical interludes. It follows Mr. Scrooge as he humbugs his way through Christmas Eve until three spirits interrupt his sleep to show him the error of his ways. Co-Directed by Rob Mess and Mandy Lahey, this year’s show does everything it can to upstage the Company’s 2012 production.
This year’s cast has 45 members, including adults and children of all ages. The opening choral rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas is overwhelming at first because of the number of faces on stage. But throughout the play each actor is given the chance to establish a real identity. By the time the show’s other bookend comes, you’ll remember each character. Arnie Follendorf delivers a standout performance as Ebeneezer Scrooge. He’s wonderfully crotchety at the opening, but is also able to convince you of Scrooge’s inner capacity for childlike delight.
The soundtrack is primarily a checklist of classic Christmas carols, but also includes 4 original songs by Bob Wood who occasionally appears on stage in the background playing guitar. Valerie Bhat plays the fiddler, bringing music to a dance scene and a walk in the park, and is actually fiddling on stage. The sets are well constructed and painted, and do a good job of evoking the material differences between the wealthy and poor.
This production achieves something that “family entertainment” isn’t usually great at: children and adults will enjoy themselves. Kids and adults will laugh — even if not necessarily at the same time. There are funny moments for adults, whereas kids will enjoy being just a little spooked by the ghosts. There aren’t really any surprises here — this is A Christmas Carol as you’ve always known it. The Longmont Theatre Company once again demonstrates how great community theater can be.
A Christmas Carol is written by Charles Dickens and adapted by Romulus Linney and is suitable for all ages. It plays at the Longmont Theatre Company theater located at 513 Main Street. Shows are on November 23, 24, 30 and December 1, 7 and 8 at 7:30 PM with special matinee presentations on November 25 and December 2 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are available at the box office for $10.00 or online for an additional fee. Intermission cocktails will be served by Longtucky Spirits — but make sure kids are in the theater for some participatory fun.
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