Marley was dead…
… but the Christmas spirit was alive last Friday for the opening of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at London’s Grand Theatre. For the second year in a row, this Christmas classic delighted the audience and brought smiles of holiday cheer to the faces of all in attendance.
As per usual at the Grand, the set design and technical elements of the production are nothing short of awesome in the true sense of the word. Set pieces flow back, through, down, and around the stage seamlessly. The special effects and the precision of the technical cues add an almost cinematic quality to the production that is to be celebrated in its own right.
Seemingly simple effects such as using rollerblades to simulate a skating rink, to much more complex near illusions such as making it actually snow inside the Grand Theatre, aid the audience greatly in suspending their disbelief.
The play has created much buzz by being the first in Canada to feature females playing Ebenezer Scrooge. Without downplaying the significance of this historic achievement, which is truly significant, Scrooge being played by a woman seems to matter little to the overall storyline. Besides the rearranging of pronouns, and the odd gender-related quip, very little dialogue was different from last year’s version with a male lead.
What really matters here is the absolutely outstanding performance by Jan Alexandra Smith as Ebenezer Scrooge. She absolutely embodies the essence of this iconic and archetypal Christmas character. Smith was able to bring the character to life, connect with the audience, make them laugh and cry. After all, that is the essence of theatre. The production demonstrates that theatre and art can simultaneously challenge the status quo while retaining and celebrating time honoured traditions. The decision to cast Scrooge as a woman sets an impressive precedent that will hopefully lead to more like it.
But a production like this is certainly no one women show. Smith is supported by a talented cast mixed with returning members from last year’s and some new faces. Specific mentions go to Owen Barteet for being the most adorable Tiny Tim ever and to Annie Cornish who played both Belinda Cratchit and the wildly popular “partridge in a pear tree”. Their cuteness is only matched by their impressive maturity and command of the stage for such young actors.
A Christmas Carol runs as the Grand until December 23 and is the perfect way to get that Scrooge in your family into the Christmas spirit. Click HERE to purchase tickets
Feature photo by Whitney South