Aerial Acrobatics. One Feverish Fiddle. A Two Story Ghost!
Victorian England springs to life in surprising ways on the stage of the Pamela Brown Auditorium in this season’s performance of A Christmas Carol at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.
Having grown up watching George C. Scott’s epic film rendition multiple times a season, I had high expectations for this stage portrayal of the helpful hauntings of Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale, adapted for the stage by Barbara Field & directed by Drew Fracher. The Actor’s ensemble did not disappoint, & I dare say this performance has trumped the movie for me this season.
Our guide through Scrooge’s epic journey of enlightenment was narrator Sherman Fracher, who captured the tone of each moment with an enticing flair. I’ve never particularly enjoyed live narration on stage, but I hung on her every word & loved the authenticity of her old world accent.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present & Future perfectly realized the essence of the characters created by Dickens in his quest to humble hearts & open minds to the real reason for the season. I was captivated by the etherial quality of the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Lauren Hirte, as she glided up & down aerial silks with ease, twisting & turning the fabric into Scrooge’s gateway to scenes from his youth. Robert Ramirez stole the stage with his joyful, larger than life portrayals of the Ghost of Christmas Present & the ever-endearing Mr. Fezziwig.
The frenzy of the fiddle that ushered us into the Christmas Eve frivolity at Fezziwig’s was intoxicating, & the singing & dancing of the players matched it magically. Never have I wanted to spring from my seat & join the revelry on stage the way I did watching this celebration unfold.
I could rave about every player’s performance, from the 8 year old boy owning the moment with his remarkable dancing to the perpetual positivity of Scrooge’s nephew Fred, played by Peter Hargrave, that I pray rubs off on us all, but there was one truly unforgettable face.
Louisville favorite John G. Preston did not “play” Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, he became him completely. Watching the layers of his cold exterior melt into enlightenment felt like experiencing the story for the first time. I knew what twists & turns were coming, but Preston infused each moment with a fresh energy that blended the serious nature of Mr. Scrooge with subtle comedic twists & genuine feeling. I have read the original work, seen it on the stage, & watched the film more times than I can count, but Preston’s performance still brought me to tears at the end as he swelled into the excitement of what it means to live in the spirit of Christmas.
Rather than spending money on things for your family & friends this holiday season, make plans to come to Actor’s Theatre to see A Christmas Carol. Invest in an experience that will give priceless memories & a reminder that the way we live is more important that the things we have while alive.
*All images courtesy of Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.*