‘A Christmas Carol’ gets you into the spirit

Published 7:27 am Sunday, December 4, 2011

Column: Stage Right, by Paul Cooper

Almost everyone is familiar with the classic Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge’s visitations from the ghost of Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future has been told many times in various forms.

Albert Lea Community Theatre is presenting an adaptation by Arthur Sholey in which the play is shortened and contains more carols. With a running time of about one hour and 45 minutes, including intermission, the story moves along quickly.

Paul Cooper

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Co-directed by Gordy Handeland and Glen Parsons, they have created a cast of both veteran and novice actors who do an excellent job in their roles.

The minimal set construction allows the changing of scenes to be done quickly. It was interesting to see how each person assigned to a task managed to stay out of each other’s way. This usually gets even faster as the show continues its run. Freezing the actors in place is effective in separating Scrooge from his current reality.

Glen Parsons is a thoroughly believable Scrooge. People who know him personally will be surprised at how mean he can be!

Ben Deiner depicts Bob Cratchit as a very nice man who does not want to say anything bad about anybody. His wife, portrayed by Sophie Ehrhart, and their children form the perfect but poor family. Special mention should be made of young Dane Brownlow, who does an excellent turn as Tiny Tim. His singing and demeanor are spot on.

Matt Stoneking as Scrooge’s irrepressible nephew doesn’t let Scrooge’s harsh words affect his cheerful outlook on life.

The supernatural characters also play their parts well. Brian Mattson as Marley is effectively gruesome. Rebekah Sousa as Christmas Past and Jason Howland as Christmas Present are important roles showing Scrooge the consequences of his actions.

Jay Paul plays the perfect Mr. Fezziwig, lighthearted and welcoming to all.

The carolers in this adaptation are used to provide action during scene changes and also add to the Christmas spirit.

Mariah Howe as Belle sings a beautiful “Greensleeves.”

It should be mentioned here that the costumes put together by Rosalie Truax and Joan Muschler for this large cast are striking. The makeup is also done well, especially in the cases of Marley and the specters of Want and Ignorance.

The English accents of all cast members are quite good, although sometimes hard to understand if spoken too softly.

Musical Director Lora Virgil provides all the music for the show on keyboard and also some interesting sound effects.

Lighting by Mike Wangen, as always, is professional and perfect.

The play is suitable for all members of the family and will make for an enjoyable evening at the theater.


Paul Cooper is a retired English teacher who has performed in area theaters for over 20 years.