McCarter Theatre Center has been presenting A Christmas Carol to Princeton, NJ for decades. It has not only become a tradition for families in town, but also for the greater community. McCarter’s programs for the production even expanded beyond the walls of the theater, including previous events at Princeton Public Library and Morven Museum and Garden, but it’s McCarter’s in-house hospitality around this production that makes it stand out from other theaters.
The story is a classic. Ebenezer Scrooge (Greg Wood) is not fond of Christmas. He always “bah humbugs” everything that gives people joy during the season. In his mind, being present is costly because it requires bringing a present, and time off for Christmas with pay is like stealing from your employer. One year was quite different for him. You can read the synopsis here. This piece takes place just after the industrial revolution in mid-1800 London. And yes, the costumes and set are fabulous.
Dressed in period costumes, some members of the Community Ensemble greet guests as they arrive, the theater offers refreshments at reasonable prices, there are pre-show activities, ushers hand you a playbill and guide you to your seat, and once seated, other Community Ensemble members walk around chatting with guests. Just before the performance begins, the audience sings along with the carolers in a traditional rendition of “In Dulci Jublio” (In Sweet Rejoicing). McCarter makes a strong effort to make you feel like an invited guest in their “home” even before the show begins. This has been an amazing enhancement since it has been re-imagined.
Every year, there are tweaks made to freshen up the production. This year, there seems to have been an increase of members in the Children’s ensemble. Not only that, but some kids brought extra talents to the show, from playing the violin and a tabla drum to acrobatic flips. This new addition felt organic and worked well.
The actor who plays Scrooge remains the same; however, many cast members have changed. The group is is extremely diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, and race, and truly represents the Greater Princeton Area. Half of the professional cast has worked on or off-Broadway and a few are returning to McCarter. Woods really anchors the show with his return and his stellar performance.The remaining cast, including the ensembles, really pull their weight.
The 2018 production of A Christmas Carol was brilliantly directed by Adam Immerwahr, who incorporates the audience into the performance making them feel more like a participant than just an observer. He also pulls off masterful illusions and tells the story at a good pace to keep all entertained.
Special upcoming evenings that make you feel like family
Enjoy hearty appetizers while sipping on holiday inspired cocktails in a family atmosphere fit for all Dickens enthusiasts prior to the performance! Please note: cash bar for alcohol.
Banish the bah-humbugs with Ebenezer Scrooge at a post-show reception with cookies and hot cocoa.
Relaxed Performances provide a welcoming and judgment-free environment for people on the autism spectrum, with cognitive and developmental differences, other sensory or communication needs, so that they and their families may enjoy a live performance together. It is a matinee, the lights will be dimmed, and the sound will be lowered. All are welcome!
I’ve seen some Broadway shows that were inferior to the performance of McCarter’s A Christmas Carol, which is a testament to the talent of the director, cast and crew. This production is really heartwarming and mysteriously enchanting! It is the perfect family entertainment for the season, though, I could watch this year-round.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol runs December 4 – 29 in the Matthews Theatre. Tickets start at $25 and are available online at mccarter.org, by phone at (609) 258-2787, or in person at the McCarter Ticket Office, located at 91 University Place in Princeton. The run time is two hours with one 15-minute intermission.