What a joy and thrill to see A Christmas Carol back at A Noise Within in all it’s dazzling, whimsical wonder! Now in its 11th year, Geoff Elliott’s faithful adaptation – every word comes directly from the novel – is truly an experience for the senses. Everything about this production is what you hope for from a repertory company like ANW, from the exquisitely lush costumes and wintry sets to the ethereal sound design and playful singing is infused with the sights and sounds of mid-19th century, Victorian London in December, snow and all – it is absolutely sumptuous in every way.
The dashing Frederick Stuart narrates, reading from a well-worn copy of Dickens’ book, with a voice you could listen to all night. Elliott returns as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge whom we meet as he makes his way through town to his cold, sparse office where his long-suffering clerk, Bob Cratchit, attempts to finish his work on Christmas Eve. Elliott appears to age backwards through the show, beginning as a hunched over old man practically encased in ice, who progressively melts into the softest of marshmallows! It’s such a beautiful journey to watch. Cratchit is lovingly portrayed by Kasey Mahaffy who will break your heart with his fatherly love for Tiny Tim.
Trisha Miller simply stuns as the most beautifully enchanting Ghost of Christmas Past whose glorious entrance is worth the ticket price alone. And Anthony Adu is a delightful addition as an exuberant Ghost of Christmas Present. Also new to the cast is Mitch Connelly as Scrooge’s nephew, Fred. He brings an earnestness to Fred, who refuses to let his uncle’s lack of Christmas spirit sway him from the genuine love of his own. One of my absolute favorite scenes in this production is their transformation of the party guessing game at Fred’s dinner into a delightful musical number – where the cast truly looks as if they are having as much fun as we are.
Back for the first time in three years is the ANW tradition of the actors staying on stage after the curtain call to mingle with the audience, chat and take photos. It’s such a lovely, communal thing that allows the audience to really be a part of it all. Between that, the new cast members, and entire sparkling ensemble, this year captivates with great energy that feels especially fresh and vibrant. This Christmas Carol should be on everyone’s list.
A Christmas Carol runs through December 24. A Noise Within is located at 3352 E Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107. To purchase tickets and for more information, call (626) 356-3100 or go to www.anoisewithin.org