Review: Actors Theatre's A Christmas Carol [Theater]

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It’s back.  For the 36th year, Actors Theatre presents A Christmas Carol, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank.

For some of the cast, A Christmas Carol is as much of a tradition as it is for the audience. Anna Hodapp (Mrs. Grigsby/Cook) is embarking on her twentieth year in the production. William McNulty returns for his tenth year as Scrooge, in his twenty-fifth year with the show. V. Craig Heidenreich began his run with Actors as Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, years ago, and has played various roles since then, returning this year as The Narrator.
 
With several other cast members returning to the same story year after year, one might wonder if A Christmas Carol has sung itself out in Louisville.
 
That doesn’t appear to be the case.
 
Just as we thrill to the crooning of Bing Crosby singing about his dreams every December, Louisvillians, it seems, demand their dose of holiday humbug come humanity in the redemptive tale that is A Christmas Carol
 
As a non-Louisville native, I ventured into that generational tradition for the first time Friday night.
 
I was not disappointed.
 
Paul Owen’s beautiful and versatile scenic design transports the audience into 19th century London. And, if that audience is more captivated by beauty than realism, it is quick to dismiss the inaccuracy of the twinkle lights adorning the garland that decorates the streets.
 
From the spectacle of a jaw-dropping perspective on the Ghost of Christmas Past (the lithe and limber Lauren Hirte) to the flair of the on-stage musicians, vocalists and dancers (including a delightful feature by the young and talented Elijah Foye), the production is more than a pleasant retelling of a familiar story. 
 
While there were brief moments when the company’s harmonized (and impressive a cappella) carols seemed a beat out of synch, and William McNulty (Scrooge) was uncharacteristically difficult to hear, the cast functions as a well-oiled unit to the very end.
 
But is this a family show? Though the Ghost of Christmas Future (Jonathan Finnegan) and Marley (Larry Bull) are spooky in quite effective ways, there were several seven and eight-year-olds in the audience that seemed to weather the dark moments just fine.
 
A Christmas Carol, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, runs now through December 23rd. Tickets start at $30 and are available online, in person at the Actors Theatre box office (316 W. Main) or by calling 502-584-1205. Student, senior and group discounts are available.
 
Image: Courtesy Actors Theatre