Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol – 120min - NA

I did not take in a movie this weekend because I went to this thing called a “PLAY”. See before there were movies people would put on a movie… err play, and it would be just like a movie only in really high definition. The down side of this medium is that it only happens in real time and only in small increments. So you will not be able to see the wonderful event that was presented in the town of Greely, Colorado by The Stampede Troup. I am going to make this the first installment of a different kind of review. I was so moved by the excellent performance that I thought I would expand into live productions on this blog. Besides, it was what was showing next. I give the cast and crew a green light for their presentation of this holiday classic.

In case you have no idea what this story is about I will do a quick recap. It’s Christmas and the main character is Ebenezer Scrooge (Noel Johnson) is a money lender; a cold hearted miser who has absolutely no joy in his life. His long dead partner, Marley (Andrew Sands), speaks from beyond the grave and warns him that he has squandered his life away and his afterlife is going to really suck. Marley tells him he will be visited by three sprits to show him the error of his ways. The Ghost of Christmas Past (Sami Harter), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Scot Ganon), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (Mike Shackley) each shows Scrooge how he has lost his way morally. Scrooge sees the error of his ways and mends his life and vows to keep the Christmas spirit in his heart all the year long.

The Smoke machine effects and door knocker transformation scene was good but they were secondary to the outstanding performances and dedication to the story. The settings and scene composition would rival any big screen production. An excellent example of this would be the scene in which Scrooge is brought to his old school and we see a lone students desk and a very young Ebenezer (Josef Dunn) looking forlornly at it. All he does is stand there and look at the desk but the way they blocked the scene blended the past and the present so well that the silent young Ebenezer provides an unspoken explanation of how this man has grown so dower and cold hearted.

Another outstanding scene is later in Ebenezer’s life he is in his yearly twenties (Zane Garcia). He is breaking up with the love of his life, Belle (Bailey Sande). She has come to the realization that money and success rule Ebenezer’s heart and he has no place for her. It is heart-breaking to see and Sande performs it with sorrow and hopelessness. She still loves him, but she also knows he will never love her as much as he loves success. Garcia also played Fred, Ebenezer’s nephew, who truly loves his uncle and really feels sorry for his situation. He tries to reach his uncle every year and does it with true charity in his heart.

You could tell that the cast had a love for this story and it was brought to life in the hearts of the performers and laid bare for the audience to experience. The Director (Diane Cays) obviously created an environment where the performers felt free to own the roles they performed. I have seen this show before and am well aware of its themes but I have to say that this production opened my eyes to a number of elements that in previous viewing seemed to escape me. It could be that I have seen it over and over again, but I think this cast has breathed a new life into the story that other renditions seemed to have glossed over.

I really wish everyone could see this play, it was exceptional. I would strongly suggest that everyone look into local theater companies and give them a chance where ever you are. I know it is odd for a movie critic to suggest you go see something other than a movie, but there are some wonderful and magical events happing all the time right there at your fingertips. They are not the big budget productions but the actors and crew who put them on play it as if it were. You are really missing out on a shared experience with the performers if you never go and see a play.

Look in your local paper and stop by a show for a change. If you are in Denver you can look at the Denver Post Theater Page for local performances.

My last question is going to be, what have you got to lose by going to a play, the movies will always be on Blu-Ray or On Demand. Plays are unique one-time events that you get to share. Why not go see one this month?


Anonymous said...

I think I speak for the whole Stampede Troupe when I say that we are glad that you enjoyed it.

- "Ghost of Christmas Past"

Anonymous said...

Nicely said, FS - I enjoy movies, but there's a lot to be said for knowing that this exact moment in the theater will never happen again! Mama Shelley