The eerie lights go up, the spooky stage smoke clears and what looks like a seven-foot-tall ghost of Marley appears wearing stunning fluorescent ghoul makeup and cobwebby grave clothes. It's clear that this "Christmas Carol" is going to be an exciting blend of spectacle, special effects and surprises.
Local director Tim Glasby has mounted an ambitious version of the Charles Dickens classic in the intimate 100-seat Center Stage Theater. The 21-member cast, who play 40 characters, is headed by Equity actors John Fink as Marley and Richard Stretchberry as Ebenezer Scrooge.
The massive set, based on four rotating wagons, features a curved bridge large enough to hold a phalanx of carolers in Victorian dress who sing between scenes. We sympathize with the poor Cratchit family, root for Tiny Tim and follow the metamorphosis of that archetypal miser Scrooge, who stomps and humbugs his way through rapidly shifting scenes--from Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future.
The first scenes reveal that Ebenezer was a solitary, neglected child who grew up to be a lonely, isolated man, insulated from all human feeling. When Christmas Future reveals his unmourned death, Scrooge suffers profound anguish over his miserly years and feels a genuine need to make something of what is left of his life.