One of my motivations for writing up notes on what I see and posting them here during the run of the show is to encourage other people to go see the show, or to tell people enough about the show that the people who will like it will go.
But in the case of A Christmas Carol at the Citadel, I’m not sure whether I need to do that. I had the impression that anyone in Edmonton who would like it has already seen it in previous years, and if they wanted to see it again they would already get tickets. And when I saw it opening night, I guessed that most of the audience had seen it before, based on lots of them seeming to be anticipating the special effects that kept catching me by surprise. I ended up seeing it closing night as well, and I can see why it’s such a perennial favourite with a long run every December. It seemed to have a demographically diverse audience, some families with little kids, some families with older teenagers, and adults of all ages. I wondered whether it was too intense or scary for some of the littler kids, or whether the story was familiar enough to them from other adaptations like “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and readings-aloud that they could get past the scary bits remembering that at the end Scrooge isn’t really dead and neither is Tiny Tim.
The play has a cast of 42 with a lot of the adults playing more than one character. James MacDonald was Scrooge, and he was particularly fun when he giddily realises that he has time to mend his ways and change the outcomes. Julien Arnold was the ever-grinning Bob Cratchit, and Eric Morin was Scrooge’s nephew Fred. Belinda Cornish did Mrs. Cratchit very well, conveying warmth and optimism while damping her usual powerful stage presence and upper-class accent enough to be convincing in the role. Many other names on the cast list are familiar local actors and instructors at Foote Theatre School.
A lot of complicated scenery is moved quickly and smoothly on the Maclab Theatre thrust stage, much of it while our attention is distracted elsewhere. Some magical special effects delighted me just as much on second viewing. The ornate costumes clearly conveyed the class distinctions and the era and were fun to look at.
If you missed it this year, I’m sure it will come around again. But in the meantime, there’s going to be lots of other great entertainment at the Citadel and around the other Edmonton stages in 2014. I can’t wait.