Lyric’s “A Christmas Carol” Traditional Wonder and Delight
Elizabeth Hurd Published: December 5th, 2016
“A Christmas Carol” is the classic that introduces each succeeding generation to Charles Dickens for the first time. There are many adaptations to stage and screen of this beautiful story, and many theatres have an adaptation that becomes a Christmas tradition, beautiful and beloved.
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is one of those theatres and their Plaza location is an ideal setting evocative of London long ago, quaint, slightly derelict but most assuredly not squalid. This adaptation is by Michael Baron, Producing Artistic Director at Lyric. Baron also directs “A Christmas Carol” and in directing his own adaptation preserves an authentic interpretation honoring Dickens original tale. It is Devon Energy that presents “A Christmas Carol” for Lyric audiences.
The long standing tradition that develops creates a dynamic connection in the community. Lyric has been showing “A Christmas Carol” since 2011 and has already established many fond memories. Actors may come and go and sometimes show up in different roles, sets can be changed (2016 is a brand new design) and the focus on specific scenes can vary from year to year. The integrity and message in every theatre and in every production of every year is always the same: Redemption is not only possible, it can be fun, love should be cherished through every change and Christmas Joy is in gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook.
Of course opening that pocketbook is what makes Scrooge magic. From the first moment we see him, with all the sinister expressions Dirk Lumbard has in his repertoire we are transfixed. Menacing in cape and cane and amusingly miserly in nightcap and dressing robe, the costumes, make-up and set quickly lure the audience into the dream. Bob Cratchit, timid and tender huddles under a ragged blanket berated by the still unrepentant Scrooge. Charlie Monnot creates in Cratchit a somewhat brow beaten character who is poor but not pitiful, a man worthy of respect. Comparing today’s Scrooge with his youthful self an enthusiasm is revealed that soon becomes jaded. Later, the young nephew of Scrooge is unabashedly excited in loving his life. Andi Dema brings to both characters the joy that must be lived, as “A Christmas Carol” brings that thrill to the actor—‘this is my first time!’
Marley appears out of ghostly ooze, covered in the chains forged from his life. His visage is terrifyingly real; ugly and full of regrets and shame. Underneath this horrific spirit lurks the kindly face of Stephen Hilton; the program photo does not lie! With little time to reflect, Scrooge meets the first spirit Marley foretells. She is the sprightly Ghost of Christmas Past brought to us by Melissa Griffith; her Tinkerbelle manner and her flowing flight do not mask the memories Scrooge has lost—once delightful now turned to dust. Scrooge returns to his room but his respite is momentary and suddenly the Ghost of Christmas Present arrives in a wondrous carriage. Mateja Govich singes Scrooge with his Christmas Present character and seizes all with his opulence and oration.
Brenda Williams is Mrs. Dilber and she narrates the play alongside Matthew Alvin Brown who is Topper. The two of them bring the story of this man who denies the joy of living but still is able to find joy in redemption into a cohesive narrative and with extraordinary characterizations. Susan Riley as a Solicitor and Sister-in-Law is wonderfully complementary to Lexi Windsor as a Solicitor and Belle, the love of Scrooge’s life. Jennifer Teel moves seamlessly from Mrs. Fred to a charwoman, and these three ladies blend elegance with a no-nonsense attitude.
Of course, memories of “A Christmas Carol” come directly from the sweetly suffering Tiny Tim Cratchit played by two child actors on alternate evenings. The Holly Cast features Anthony Neumann as Tiny Tim, lovingly cherished by his doting father. Alternating with Holly, the Ivy Cast features Hudson West Ratcliff as Tiny Tim and it is clear that both groups mesh beautifully with the adult cast members. Seeing the Holly Cast we find Neumann’s Tiny Tim is the glue that binds the Cratchit family in light and love. Nakeisha McGee as Mrs. Cratchit has the remarkable ability to grieve the loss of Tiny Tim in Scrooge’s vision of the future and then rejoice in Scrooge’s redemption. Her eyes reflect just a shadow of the tragedy so feared and miraculously averted. She has a lovely voice and demeanor that demonstrates the forbearance and patience of an admirable loving wife and mother. These traits she passes on to all the children in both casts and all characters.
Baron’s direction is enhanced also by the fantastic scenery and technical marvels, the beautiful costumes and skillful lighting. Attention of the smallest detail in props and decoration make this “A Christmas Carol” another memory saved in a special place.
The special place to make this memory is at the Lyric Theatre Plaza location at 1727 N.W. 16th Street through December 24, 2016. For information and tickets contact www. LyricTheatreOKC.com or call 405-524-9312. Curtain times are staggered: 7:00, 7:30 or 8:00 o’clock depending on the evening and 2:00 o’clock for Matinee performances. When reserving tickets note the curtain time for that date and also, those wishing to be entertained by a particular child let the box office schedule you according to preference; Ivy or Holly.