Saturday, December 8, 2007

A.C.T.'s 'A Christmas Carol': ☼☼☼ 1/2 BANG

You know the characters, you know how the story turns out, you've seen or heard it a dozen times on TV or video or on the radio or on a record. You may even approach the evening at A.C.T. Theater with trepidation, saying to yourself "Oh, Man! A Christmas Carol AGAIN? We'll be out of there by Act Two."

Humbug. You'll be on your feet at the end of Act One AND Act Two, shouting "Bravo! or "Fezziwig!" If you are like this writer, you will want to grow up to be just like Scrooge.

You get good Bob Cratchit (the excellent Jud Williford) and his poor but humble family, including crippled Tiny Tim. You get bad Ebenezer Scrooge whose last name has come to define skinflintedness for more than a hundred years. Toss in the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The result is the triumph of lightness over dark, of good over evil.

Ah, but you are not prepared for James Carpenter, whose Scrooge at the opening is frighteningly formidable, but by the time the ghost of Bob Marley (Jack Willis) gets done with him has become a groveling, frightened old man before our eyes. You are not prepared for John Arnone's sets (if you've ever drunk a quart of spoiled egg nog maybe you'll recognize the deep green and horrific specter of Christmas Future) and Beaver Bauer's costumes, especially the two Spanish Onions and two Turkish figs, played by children, who captivate us in the audience as they are doing so to Ebenezer on stage.

This is not children's theater in Gilroy, friends; it's the big city, with music, dancing, fabulous acting and full production values. It's so easy to be a grinch and complain about all the Christmas-y overkill we must all face each and every year. With 'A Christmas Carol' perhaps we have the antidote. Take one and blog me in the morning.

RATINGS:☼ ☼ ☼ 1/2 BANG

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards A.C.T.'s 'A Christmas Carol a full star and a half for Scrooge himself ("Fell in Love? BAH!"); a star for the memorable dance sequence at the Fezziwigs' party; another for Marley rising out of Scrooge's bed (Take THAT, Sigmund Freud), plus all the Ghosts of Christmas Whenever. A special BANGLE is awarded for the priceless moment on Opening Night when Bob Cratchit and family were gathered around their meager Christmas repast on stage, and a little voice called out from somewhere in the second balcony: "Mewwy Cwistmas to you too!"

Are you smiling? This is for the way you get to feel when you walk out of the theater after the final curtain calls. If you don't like 'A Christmas Carol,' you must be a Republican.

American Conservatory Theater
415 Geary Street
San Francisco
Dec 7-23 Tue-Sun. $18-$82

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People should read this.