A Christmas Carol

By - Dec 6th, 2007 02:52 pm
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By Carrie Beilke

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol at a time when there was a new focus on our growing human family and the plight of the poor. It was also a time when the urban Christmas tradition had started to lose meaning. Although a century or so has passed, A Christmas Carol still reminds us of the importance of charity and love for humanity that’s especially pertinent this time of year.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater brings a well-needed dose of good cheer each year with its take on the Christmas classic, which is all the more magical with period songs and dance. If this play is part of your holiday tradition, look for some interesting changes in the line-up and the script this time around.

This year, Jim Pickering plays a particularly cold and calculating Ebenezer Scrooge – which makes his later transformation much more miraculous. Scrooge’s intervention begins as usual with a spooky visit from his old buddy Marley whose skin smokes and rattles with chains. The mysterious effect of the ghost of Christmas Past is heightened with lighting that turns the stage dusty and sepia-toned, like an old photograph. When Scrooge visits his old workplace, the set comes alive with song and festivities, and Mark Corkins stretches his comedic muscles as a jolly Mr. Fezziwig.

The run time of the show has been cut by 12 minutes this year, which is great news if you’re bringing children; it may be difficult for little ones to sit still through the whole show. However, it’s disappointing that the usual nativity scene at the Cratchit’s household had to be cut.

More time with the Cratchit family in general would have been enjoyable, especially with Tracy Michelle Arnold as a very funny Mrs. Cratchit. An extra reminder of the importance of family is woven into this year’s production – Jonathan Gillard Daly in the role of Bob Cratchit shares the stage with his actual daughter Emily Daly, who is lovely as Martha Cratchit. It’s easy to see why Scrooge would be so taken with this family, which in the end encourages him to change his miserly ways.

A Christmas Carol may come to the Pabst but once a year, but it’s the perfect reminder to keep the spirit of Christmas in the heart all year long.

A Christmas Carol runs from November 23rd though December 23rd at the Pabst Theater. Call 414-224-9490 for tickets. And please remember, while this is a family play, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater requires children to be of school age.

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