Review: A Christmas Carol, starring Campbell Scott
After becoming a holiday staple at London's Old Vic, Jack Thorne has brought his adaption of A Christmas Carol to Broadway. You know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Campbell Scott), a man who can't even use Christmas as an excuse to stop working. So frustrated by the holiday spirit in his community, he sends carolers away from his door. The music however, may be exactly how Scrooge finds his way to redemption.
Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Andrea Martin), The Ghost of Christmas Present (LaChanze), and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Rachel Prather). However the latter is not is also Scrooge's deceased sister, Little Fan, cementing the values of love and family that fill this production. It's a beautiful way to connect the audience to Scrooge, and it should be no surprise considering that a father and son relationship is at the center of Thorne's other play currently on Broadway. It's a beautiful choice, and the relationship of Bob Cratchit (Dashiell Eaves) with his son Tiny Tim, a role alternated between two young boys though I saw Sebastian Ortiz, becomes all the more pivotal to the story after Scrooge returns from his visions of the past and future, looking for something to improve the holidays for Cratchit and his family. Also of note, both actors portraying Tiny Tim have cerebral palsy. Ortiz, who uses a walker, and marks both an important movement in theater by having actors with disabilities play characters with disabilities while also making sure the audience's eyes are open to all types of people that exist around us and ensures that the storytelling remains as authentic as possible.
While the stage of the Lyceum has been reconfigured to extend into the audience, and there is action that takes place far from the stage, the minimalistic set and gorgeous lighting design that features lanterns extending throughout the entire auditorium are all that are needed to draw the audience in. And as we witness familial connection on stage, the audience is also invited to connect with the spirit of Christmas from the second you step in the doors. After taking your seat, you'll be given a mandarin orange and some cookies, feeling like you're visiting an old friend. And in a way, you are. While the story itself is familiar, so are the Christmas carols sprinkled through the production. The music is key to Scrooge's redemption, and by the end of the show the audience is invited to sing along. It's the icing on the cake of such a joyful and thoughtful production that is filled to the brim with kindness and an infectious happiness, while ensuring that the audience shares the journey of Scrooge and is able to witness what is truly going on around them. When leaving the theater, one can only hope that this production becomes as much of a tradition in New York as it is in London. But until then, it feels fitting to end with the most iconic line from Dickens' tale. God bless us, everyone!