newer every year, even as its director and central character remain
For this silver-anniversary show, director John-David Keller has
added the usual subtle embellishments -- more interaction among the
Londoners on the street and the amplification of the Cratchit kids'
characters. But the biggest impression is auditory, not visual -- the
state-of-the-art sound design of Drew Dalzell, expanding on Garth
Hemphill's original effects, which envelop the audience in crisp and
The centerpiece of this and every production of "A Christmas
Carol" since South Coast Repertory scribe Jerry Patch adapted
Dickens' morality tale is the superlative performance of Hal Landon
Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge -- a miser's miser who believes everyone who
celebrates the yuletide holiday should be "boiled in his own pudding
with a stake of holly through his heart." This attitude, as every
grade school student knows, is about to change.
Scrooge's conversion by a trio of specters and the ominous ghost
of his long-dead partner Jacob Marley is the crux of "A Christmas
Carol," and these otherworldly gentlemen carry out their assignments
with aplomb. Particularly effective this year is Don Took, chained
and domineering as Marley's tortured spirit. Took also doubles as the
ghost of Christmas future -- and this time, his new entrance in that
guise is as chilling as his familiar through-the-door burst in the
Richard Doyle is a smooth, almost genteel specter as the spirit of
Christmas past, guiding Scrooge through his unhappy childhood and a
heartbreak in his teen years that turned his visions to dollar signs.
Timothy Landfield revels in his ghost of Christmas present, turning
his character 180 degrees shortly before his departure to leave a
moral imprint on Scrooge's heart.
Director Keller appears in his regular solicitor assignment with
Martha McFarland, but also joins McFarland as Scrooge's early
employer Fezziwig, replacing the longtime occupant of that role, Art
Koustik, who's still aboard as the garrulous street merchant, with