A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a holiday tradition for some. I have discovered that to see it come alive at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ is a feast for the eyes and a catalyst for the soul, after I recently went to a performance to see how Dickens’ book translated to the stage at this theater. This is a wonderful adaptation by David Thompson, and it’s directed by Michael Unger, who has been at the helm of this production for 13 years at McCarter, and continues to refresh the show to keep audiences returning year after year.
The McCarter Theater might be smaller in size than its Broadway counterparts, but it’s by no means smaller in impact. The magical extravaganza of A Christmas Carol in this theater transformed me back to 1843 with beautiful costumes, hair, make-up, sets, and choreography. The snow gently fell on the stage in the first scene setting the mood for winter. The great details on the stage wonderfully recreated Scrooge’s home, Fezziwig’s warehouse, the graveyard, the home of the Cratchits, and young Ebenezer’s schoolyard, and the scenes changed with fluidity.
Ebenezer Scrooge flew across the stage with ease, and yes, I was looking for strings and couldn’t find them. The monstrous ghost of Christmas Yet to Come sent shivers up my spine. There were so many amazing special effects, both subtle and bold, that makes this a world-class production. The talking door knocker, Jacob Marley’s ghost going through the wall, the flames on Scrooge’s tombstone, self-extinguishing candles and more, astounded me like a schoolgirl. The lighting perfectly accompanied the actors and effects, and the music and sound effects added so much dimension to the scenes. On the non-technical side, was the brilliant acting of this marvelous cast who affected my emotions, by making me laugh, sigh and get teary-eyed. The performances were stellar, and after reading the actors’ biographies, I knew why. Graeme Malcolm played Scrooge to perfection, and Noah Hinsdale convincingly hobbled across the stage on one crutch as Tiny Tim. The entire cast performed seamlessly as if they’d all worked several years together.
This past summer I went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway with my family, and I’m still buzzing due to the magical elements of the production. I believe A Christmas Carol at the McCarter Theater has the same enchanting qualities, and will leave a lasting memory with all who are fortunate enough to see it.