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A Christmas Carol | The Fabulous Fox Theater

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play_fox.jpgIn this production, Nils Haaland's veteran skills showed through strongly, as his portrayal of Scrooge was authentic from the beginning.

 

 

 

 

Adapted by Charles Jones
Directed by Carl Beck, Susan Baer Collins, and Susan Clement-Toberer

The Nebraska Theater Caravan rolled into town this year to fulfill a holiday season mandate by performing the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. And just in time, because in a society where Christmas decorations start being sold as early as Labor Day weekend, it's sometimes easy to be a bit resistant to the holiday season. One way to keep you from turning into a Scrooge yourself is to watch A Christmas Carol and soak in the message of goodwill and giving.

The main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was well cast and played by Nils Haaland. No stranger to the stage, Haaland is a Theatre Arts Guild award winner for best actor and has directed and produced many shows; his voice can even be heard on various animated series. In this production, his veteran skills showed through strongly, as his portrayal of Scrooge was authentic from the beginning. His bent posture, stringy white hair, and venom-filled "Bah, humbug!" are convincing and true to Dicken's original character.

For the most part, the show was a typical telling of the classic story. The narrative is mainly a vehicle to present the audience with a variety of musical numbers. After Halaand, the music was definitely one of the strong points of the show. The troupe was dead on with familiar numbers like, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and not-so-familiar numbers like "Susanni," the latter German in origin. It was particularly gratifying that the music stayed classic and Victorian in nature and never gave into becoming contemporary.

Other than Haaland, the other actors blended into the background and scenery—not necessarily a bad thing. They helped create the rich tapestry that has made this story timeless. There were a few standouts in the play, including Mike Long, who played a very haunting Jacob Marley. His ghoulish appearance and tormented bellows set the tone for the foreboding scene. Theresa Sindelar did a great job as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Her sweet face, proper stature, and contagious, quirky laughter made her character come to life as the warm, happy childhood memories that she represented. The only character that was a little off was The Ghost of Christmas Present, played by David Cross. The Ghost of Christmas Present is normally a big burly, Nordic-type character, but Cross just didn't seem to fill out the role physically, thereby breaking the illusion of the play. I'm sure Cross is a fine actor, but he was definitely a miscast in this role.

The stage props were excellent. In just a matter of seconds, the stage was transformed from a street scene from 1843 London to Scrooge's bedroom, then to a Victorian parlor room. All the props had an authentic look and were very beautiful. The fireplace that Jacob Marley entered through was very eerie and the special effects made the moment complete. The most exciting prop might have been The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. It stood about 20 feet tall and was a very ominous figure that stepped away to reveal Ebenezer's tombstone and his future.

Overall, the show was well done and of top quality. There were hardly any surprises since it was a faithful telling of A Christmas Carol, but he production was still entertaining. Seeing A Christmas Carol at the beginning of the holiday season is a great way to get over those "Bah, humbug!" blues. The Nebraska Theater Caravan does not disappoint. | Ryan Parker

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