BY STEPHEN DiLAURO | Maybe I am becoming an old softy. On December 1, I went to see the anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol” on MacDougal Street and found myself swept up into the holiday energy. Usually, the beginning of December finds me lamenting the early onslaught of seasonal music, decorations and so on. And here I was sitting in a theater, humming along with the lovely a cappella renditions of traditional tunes like “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” (“Adeste Fidelis,” in Latin).
This show is a true pageant, a rousing musical with a huge cast. Brenda Bell, who wrote the book and lyrics and directs the show each year, is also onstage for much of the action, as Agy and as the Ghost of Christmas Present. The star of the show, though, is Eric Fletcher reprising the role of Scrooge for his 13th year. He belts out tunes one after the other and gives a bravura performance as probably the most famous miser in literature. (If you are somehow unfamiliar with the story of Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, you will find it in the collected works of Charles Dickens.) Micheal Sgouros is the musical director and composer of the percussion-driven score, which is surprisingly delightful.
High-energy performances by everyone involved give the show a soaring quality.
There were several children among the packed house the night I saw it and nary a peep of complaint was heard from any of them. It’s a huge entertainment package delivered in just more than an hour. It truly is a theatrical event for “the whole family.”
There are enjoyable dance numbers. The costumes are festive and colorful, and the set is a fanciful peek at the streets of 19th-century London. The singing players stroll, strut and march up and down the center aisle of this charming and intimate theater, singing.
All in all, I find it hard to conceive that another Christmas show can entertain more than this “Christmas Carol” in this Off Broadway presentation in the pulsing heart of the Village.
It is hard for me to eschew my inclination to cynicism these days. Is the “Christmas Carol” a lesson? Is supernatural intervention the only way to get the super-rich to act decently, even for a day? Those questions arose before and after seeing the show but were completely forgotten during the performance, as were all the rest of the current disasters that bombard us daily.
Go see this “Christmas Carol.” It is sweet and full of joy. Be transported. Be enraptured. Merry Christmas!
“A Christmas Carol: The Musical,” at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., Thurs. to Sat. at 7 p.m.; Sat. at 3 p.m.; Sun. at 11 a.m. (designated family performance) and 2 p.m., with additional holiday shows Tues., Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Wed., Dec. 27 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. (No shows Dec. 24 to Dec. 26). For more information and tickets ($46 to $67), visit ScroogeInTheVillage.com.
DiLauro is a playwright and poet. He posts Monday to Friday on YouTube.com/@UkeJackson