The well-known English author, Charles Dickens, is probably best known for his instantly successful 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. In fact, the main character's name, "Scrooge," has become a commonplace term, synonymous with greed and meanness, and the story, itself, has shaped the celebration of Christmas for over 170 years.
A Christmas Carol has been performed as a play for nearly as long as it has been in publication, and this year marks the 40th year of the production by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The historic Pabst Theater, while not quite as old as the story, creates a perfect Victorian setting for the play, which is an annual tradition for many area families and schools.
Dickens often used his writing to comment on the social issues of his day. While we've managed to correct some of the worst problems the poor in Victorian England were subject to, such as child labor and lack of public sanitation, the themes of greed and charity, and forgiveness and redemption, still resonate with today's audiences -- particularly during this season of giving.
If you haven't found your Christmas Spirit yet, look no further than The Rep's production of A Christmas Carol.
In A Christmas Carol, directed by Brent Hazelton (based on Original Direction by Aaron Posner), greed is represented by Ebeneezer Scrooge (Jonathan Smoots), while the poor are represented by Scrooge's employee, Bob Cratchit (Jonathan Wainwright), his wife (Malkia Stampley), and his six children -- including the crippled and sickly Tiny Tim (Amalia Cecsarini), of course. Scrooge is offered a chance at redemption for his wicked ways by the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley (Chike Johnson), and is told that he will be visited by three Spirits: Christmas Past (Deborah Staples), Christmas Present (Bethany Thomas), and Christmas Future (Martin Hanna).
Two characters represent goodness and the Christmas Spirit in the play: Scrooge's nephew, and only son of his beloved sister, Fan (Georgina Pink): Fred (Chris Klopatek); and, Smudge (Jack Trettin), who gets the honor of purchasing the prize goose at the end.
This year's cast is simply brilliant. Keep a sharp eye out for Mr. Topper (Michael Doherty), who will give you tears of laughter, even as the carolers bring you tears of joy (particularly the amazing voice of of Bethany Thomas, as Christmas Present). If you haven't found your Christmas Spirit yet, look no further than The Rep's production of A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol runs through December 24th at The Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased online at www.MilwaukeeRep.org, by calling the ticket office at (414) 224-9490, or in person at the ticket office (108 E. Wells St.).