Rob Reviews "A Christmas Carol" (2021)
Sometimes, it’s the little things that when we don’t have in our lives we don’t realize until we get them back. Earlier this year, it was getting back to seeing films with our friends in the Dallas press corps, and this past week it was getting to return to live theater with something I look forward to each and every year as for the sixth time, I got to see “A Christmas Carol” at the Wyly Theater in downtown Dallas.
Used as not only a great theatrical production but also as a fund raiser for the North Texas Food Bank, this production sets itself apart by making changes both small and large each year to keep Charles Dickens’ classic story (and its audience) on it’s toes. The two main differences from year to year are that of the portrayals of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present (this time with Raphael Perry and Sally Nyusten Vahle, respectively). With this production making some tinier adjustments taking place mostly with a bit more music than the average production, these two actors (with Nyusten Vahle specifically as I am a HUGE fan of her, and she has even played Scrooge herself) are the ones I was looking to in order to rank this version against the others, and simply put… this is my favorite version the Wyly has put on that I have seen.
Perry shows the darker side of Scrooge’s rage in a way that I have not seen performed on that stage before and even takes that rage and took me on the rollercoaster of his experiences on Christmas Eve that I didn’t know that I was looking for. I found myself buying in on each and every line that he delivered down to the core of my being both wanting to throw something as he berated all of those around him and celebrating with him as he found the true meaning of Christmas on a level that I haven’t smiled in this story since Nyusten Vale played that role. And speaking of her, she brough a level of energy and delight to her role that has only been matched once in the productions I have seen. I found myself laughing out loud more than once from the time she entered the scene in a costume that invoked the god of mischief himself, Loki, to her departure as the story takes its most serious turn to lead to its eventual climax. Couple that with what is definitely some tech upgrades that have been done in the time of the world being broken, and this version just works on every level under the direction of Christie Vela. Trust me on this; they REALLY stuck the landing here.
Playing at the Wyly through December 26th, this is a great way to get things rolling whether you are trying to find your Christmas spirit or if it just needs a shot in the arm to get it to the next level. Along with the humanitarian angle here, there is no reason not to take the family to one of the great theatrical rooms in the Metroplex this holiday season!