Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is back at Ford’s Theatre in a production that is guaranteed to fill your heart with Yuletide cheer.
Michael Wilson’s adaptation tells the classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge as he is visited by the three ghosts of Christmas who offer the crotchety miser a chance at redemption. This iteration of the Dickens story is the perfect blend of holiday cheer and ghostly suspense.
Director Michael Baron has constructed a very traditional production of this often performed classic that feels right at home in the historic Ford’s Theatre. The 19th-century costumes (Alejo Vietti) are lavish, the spooky old London set (Lee Savage) is foggy and evocative and there is enough caroling and snowfall to melt even the hardest of hearts.
Veteran DC actor Craig Wallace leads the cast as Ebeneezer Scrooge. Wallace’s Shakespearean training is evident and the dialogue becomes a thing of beauty as it rolls off his tongue. Wallace’s Scrooge has an aloof, classical bearing; his “bah, humbugs” are appropriately gruff and it is a delight to watch him transform from wayward curmudgeon to giddy eccentric as he embraces life anew after his encounters with the Christmas ghosts.
The entire cast is perfection. Felicia Curry is an adorable angel-like Ghost of Christmas Past as she hovers over the stage gently goading Scrooge to see the error of his ways and Barbara Pinolini as the opulently gowned Ghost of Christmas Present offers similar admonishments to urge Scrooge to mend his ways before it’s too late.
Gregory Maheu had great presence as Scrooge’s young nephew Fred and Michael Bunce was everything audience’s expect from mild-mannered family man Bob Cratchit. In the performance that I saw, Nathan Pham was an adorable Tiny Tim.
Maria Egler plays the cockney housekeeper Mrs. Dilber to great comic effect, garnering plenty of laughs for her monologue on the death of Jacob Marley and setting the scene for the arrival of Marley’s brooding, chain-laden ghost (Eben K. Logan).
Throughout the show, the stage brims with swirling movement (choreography by Shea Sullivan). Most notabley in Scrooge’s visit to his past, which becomes a scene of revelry as the ensemble cast dances several holiday jigs while Scrooge observes his young love Belle (Lauren Williams).
Lee Savage’s set offers a panoramic view of 19th-century London seen through the prism of an iron bridge. A large, telling clock keeps time with the story as Ebeneezer is visited by the various ghosts. Luxurious moving set pieces flow on and off the stage to move the action indoors to Scrooge’s wood-paneled bedroom.
Seamless set changes are barely noticeable thanks to the inclusion of numerous holiday carols sung by the excellent ensemble. These musical interludes (Josh Schmidt and Jay Crowder) add just the right note of holiday cheer to the production while Rui Rita’s lighting design brings in elements of suspense whenever a ghost is near.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than this gorgeous and entertaining A Christmas Carol at the historic Ford’s Theatre. God bless us everyone!
Recommended for children ages 5 and older.
Running Time: Two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.