It’s been a year since McCarter Theatre debuted its reimagined production of David Thompson’s adaption of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. It cleaned the slate and gave us a new set, new actors, and a new experience. This year, director Adam Immerwahr tweaked it to further enhance the staging.
Ebenezer Scrooge (Greg Wood) believes Christmas is a day for employees to extort money from their employers (no work for wages). Bah humbug is his catchphrase regarding all things associated with Christmas, condemning the holiday because he thinks it’s an unjustified spectacle. His heart started to harden after the death of important people in his life (his mother, sister, and business partner), and his fiancée breaking off their engagement. Then three ghosts (Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet-to-Come) take him on a magical journey to see pivotal moments in his life. Scrooge slowly finds the spirit of the season, including all the joy, wonder, and goodwill it holds.
The reimagined production last year introduced the Community Ensemble, who comprise of local adult non-equity performers. They bridge the gap between the members of the Company and the audience by inviting the latter to become an active part of the performance. The Ensemble takes on the responsibilities of the theater’s host by greeting guests in the lobby, walking around and speaking with them seated in the theater and leading all in Christmas carols, complete with a handbell choir. This immersive interaction alters the role of the audience and makes the experience much more personal and festive.
There is a good mix of traditional set design, costumes, and music along with 21st-century technology in the staging. More details have been added to the set, including the creation of two additional movable doors. Digitally animated images on the rear screen are introduced this year and they make one scene more enchanted. The special effects are actually quite remarkable, and there are a few moments that will have you wondering how they made things happen. The creativity and details are on par with Broadway productions.
Did I mention there’s more flying? The special effects designer, Jeremy Chernick, is one of the top special effects artists in the country for theater and was responsible for many of the effects of the Harry Potter stage play. For the younger members of the audience, this will have the wow factor of Mary Poppins and Hogwarts. It’s also amazing for adults. A Christmas Carol is a wonderful form of family entertainment. You really might want to see it twice!
A Christmas Carol at McCarter has long been a holiday tradition and draws in multiple generations annually. McCarter sets a high bar, and this fan favorite continues to amaze the young and young at heart, attracting people from the Greater Princeton area and beyond. Honestly, there is no need to look for a miracle on 34th Street because there’s one right here in Princeton!
There is a Fezziwig Party on Tuesday, December 19 at 6 PM for those purchasing tickets to that evening’s performance. Appetizers and a cash bar offering holiday inspired cocktails in a family atmosphere are available prior to the performance. Some Dickens fans dress in the attire of the period for this occasion.
Families can participate in a Meet and Greet with Scrooge on Thursday, December 28 at 2 PM at a post-show reception with cookies and hot cocoa.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol runs December 5 – 31 in the Matthews Theatre. Single tickets range from $25 – $102.50 and are on sale now online, by phone (609) 258-2787, or in person at the McCarter Theatre Center Ticket Office, located at 91 University Place in Princeton.
The production running time is two hours with one 15-minute intermission.