Rob Reviews The 2019 Production Of "A Christmas Carol"
To say that the cast of our show is incredibly blessed is a huge understatement. From opportunities to see films ahead of time to interviewing some of the biggest stars of our time and even seeing shows direct off of their Broadway runs and asking for our opinions, I could never have dreamed about some of the things we have witnessed in the last nine and a half years. With all of it, one of the things we look forward to each and every year is the Wyly Theatre Centre’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol”.
When I checked in on social media right before the lights dimmed for their telling of Charles Dickens’ famous story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey from curmudgeon to humanitarian one fateful Christmas Eve in 1843 London, I stated that I could not remember if this was the fifth or sixth time I was able to be in the building, and one would think that seeing the same production that many times could get routine. But thinking that is not even close to the truth.
The brilliance of the way the Dallas Theater Center does this production is how they make changes of all different kinds of sizes each year, and part of the fun is trying to figure out what they have done. From changing the casting of Scrooge to push both ethnic and gender bounds to re-interpreting some of the minor characters (The Ghost of Christmas Present is the most consistent example), I am constantly amazed that they are able to keep it fresh and fun each and every year.
While we waited in the lobby, a local high school chorus sang acapella holiday songs to help us pass the time, and when those familiar chimes sounded to let us in, my anticipation heightened as I saw the major set of Scrooge and Marley’s factory. With Brandon Potter playing the main role this year (his turn as LBJ in both productions they have done in the last couple of years were some of my favorites, but this troupe overall is top-notch), I noticed right away that this version used more of Dickens’ narration than past versions have done with the opening about Marley’s death done by the children of the cast.
Ian Ferguson plays Bob Cratchit this year, and he brings a warmth to what can be seen as the story’s protagonist that is shared by the rest of his onstage family, which includes the always great Tiana Kay Blair as Mrs. Cratchit. There is not a performance in this cast, top to bottom, that did not grab a hold of me and keep my focus on the beautifully curated stage for the entire ninety minutes.
There is also the charity aspect of the show, which ties into the overall theme of Dickens’ story, as the cast is available after the show for donations that go to the North Texas Food Bank. Over the last just-over-a-decade, they have raised over $700,000 to help feed the needy, which equates to over two million meals given to the needy of North Texas. They hope to keep that ball rolling this year, and with as well as this show is accepted in the Metroplex, I have no doubt they will raise a lot of money again this year.
My hope here is simply that “A Christmas Carol” at the Wyly not only stays a tradition for the cast of our show but continues on long after we have hung up our headphones and microphones for generations and generations to come. Make sure to make it a part of YOUR family’s tradition, or if you already have, keep the streak alive!