What kind of Christmas would it be without the Christmas Carol? In my family, watching Christmas Carol is a yearly family tradition. This year, however, we made a departure from the traditional movie viewing and visited A Christmas Carol, a beautiful theatrical production at Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre presented by the Dallas Theater Center. Being a literary lover with a great emphasis on historical accuracy, I had my apprehensions. It seems to have become a “thing” to re-interpret the Dickens’ classic in non-traditional ways. Normally, I am not a fan of such departures. There is indisputable charm in keeping up with the tradition, especially when the grim background of the Victorian existence amplifies tenfold the meaning of the story – the story of redemption achieved through love, empathy and generosity.
However, Dallas Theater Center did not disappoint. Their delightfully re-imagined classic features a female Scrooge (Sally Nystuen Vahle), traditional hymns presented in fresh musical interpretations, cool special effects and wonderful choreography. Period appropriate costuming combined with modern visual solutions keep the story’s timeless appeal while making it interesting and relatable for the modern audience. Female Scrooge is no less scornful of charity and devoid of compassion, than his male original; she seems even more heartless at times. The famous “I can’t make idle people merry” sharply resonates through the audience pronounced by a woman. Marley was cast as woman too (played by Lydia Mackay) to balance the relationship of characters.
This beautifully realized staging of the Dickens’ novella is another adaptation of Kevin Moriarty directed Steven Michael Walters, and choreographed by Jeremy Allen Dumont. Their collaboration brings the masterpiece alive in more ways than one. There are flying ghosts, ghosts coming up from the underworld, and other visual exuberances to please the audiences.
Sally Nystuen Vahle, as Scrooge is magnificent. She is very convincing as a chilling, merciless soul, exhibiting the absence rather than the presence of something important. Her rendition of Scrooge is truly heartless, and the interaction with Marley – downright creepy. Cratchit is particularly enjoyable. Played by Alex Organ, he exudes kindness even more that we expect from the character. There is a lot more to be said about the beautiful play, however, why say more when you can check it out for yourself? The production is continuously running through December 27th, so don’t miss it. The plot is nobody’s secret, but the enjoyment is here to stay.
I feel the story of Christmas Carol is more appropriate today than in decades before, with the inequalities of class and race, economic and educational opportunities being at the highest levels in years. In the end, Hope and Peace must prevail. Glowing Christmas and heart-warming song of the closing scene unite the actors and audience alike. Christmas is in everyone’s heart, and let it be here to stay.