There’s nothing quite like a bitter bah-humbug to start off the holiday season right.
On Friday Dec. 3, Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s “A Christmas Carol” opened at the University Theater with a talented cast that gave an energetic breath of life to the Charles Dickens classic.
Upon entering the theater, the minimalist stage featured peaceful cutouts of dark buildings illuminated by the soft glow of candles behind misty windows. The quiet image was chosen well, letting the audience settle in with feelings of both coziness and coldness.
Set in 19th century England, the play spins the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy old hermit who vehemently resents the joys of Christmas. Through a series of visits from three Christmas spirits, Scrooge witnesses his past and possible future if he continues to live so selfishly.
When seeing a play like “A Christmas Carol” it’s easy to expect a plodding ordeal with slow dialogue and a long run time. Though the first half did contain some dry exposition, the events constantly advanced at a quick clip, keeping the plot moving and audience interested.
The momentum of the plot really picked up after intermission, when the dialogue ramped up in humor and even had some surprising laughs. One such moment occurred when Scrooge sees two men (and a suspiciously feminine-sounding man), whose faces are obscured by newspapers as they speak in ridiculous voices about the death of some unknown man.
Bob Buckley, who portrayed Scrooge, displayed a spot-on interpretation of the lighthearted, curmudgeonly persona of the famous character. His grumbling bellows coupled with childlike glee made his Grinch-like character a pleasure to watch.
Some of the most impressive performances, however, came from the rest of the small and very versatile cast. Members contributed in narrating the plot as well as embodying several different characters each.
Notably, Michael Bouchard played a young version of Scrooge and Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s kind-hearted employee, with an easy charm. Jake Walker had the audience chuckling as Scrooge’s kind but cocky nephew, Fred. Laura Kruegel made the effortless switch from sweet (as Scrooge’s first love, Belle) to boisterous and funny (as Fred’s Wife).
Child actors Teagan Walker, Alastair Hennessy, and Will Hunsaker were delightful with their joyful presences, while the audience cooed over Max Eugene Raabe, one of the three children cast to play the lovable Tiny Tim.
Purposefully leaving much to the imagination, the play often relied on telling rather than showing. This choice for a usually very literal show worked well due to creative set pieces, such as Scrooge’s bed that could spin around, open down the middle, and also act as a doorway, thereby creating a variety of different scenes.
Enchanting moments included snow actually falling onstage and a knowingly cheesy dance sequence. All cast members participated in beautifully harmonized songs, which were well-placed and unexpected treats.
What ultimately gave the show its classic quality were the timeless messages that it delivered. Its smile-inducing, warm reminders of generosity and being with loved ones makes “A Christmas Carol” a warm way to spend a holiday night.
“A Christmas Carol” is showing at The University Theater at CU from Dec. 2 through 24. Tickets can be purchased here.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Stephanie Riesco at Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org.