A Christmas Carol Review – A Holiday Classic Returns

The ensemble cast of A CHRISTMAS CAROL - Photo by Craig Schwartz
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A Noise Within’s annual CHRISTMAS CAROL production returns to signal the start of the 2022 holiday season. Adapted for the stage by Geoff Elliott, who also directed (with co-director Julia Rodriguez Elliott) and stars in the classic, A CHRISTMAS CAROL can’t fail to evoke memories of Christmases past and presage this Christmas present. What better way to welcome this festive season.

Geoff Elliott as Scrooge – Photo by Craig Schwartz

From the story by Charles Dickens, A CHRISTMAS CAROL embodies all those positive thoughts we’ve come to associate with the holiday season. Inspired by his visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, where half-starved, illiterate street children received their very limited education, Charles Dickens wrote THE CHRISTMAS CAROLin less than two months. His novella was published on December 19, 1843, just in time for Christmas. Dicken’s life-long concern for the treatment of the poor and the story’s transformation of a miserly recluse into a benevolent altruist had a powerful impact on the society of his day. It is said that contributions to the poor increased substantially after the publication of his book. In fact, A CHRISTMAS CAROLsold out in weeks after its publication and has never been out of print.

Geoff Elliot and Deborah Strang as Christmas Past – Photo by Craig Schwartz

Given the Victorian era’s upsurge in interest about all things Christmas – including the Christmas tree, which was first introduced by Queen Victoria in England – Dickens had a waiting audience all set to read his work, which has been translated into multiple languages and adapted many times to film, stage, opera, ballet, animation, and even music and mime. In fact, it was only a month after publication when A CHRISTMAS CAROLwas produced on the London stage. By the end of February 1844, there were at least eight rival theatrical productions of the story. It is no small wonder that Dicken’s classic continues to inspire and entertain people today.

The name Ebenezer Scrooge has come to signify many things, from the miserly recluse to the awakened and transformed man. The Noise Within offers a very special adaptation and a very accomplished star to bring life to the beloved tale. Frederick Stuart serves as narrator, and Elliott’s adaptation remains true to the original story written almost 180 years ago. From the moment that the “Bah-humbug” star strides onstage, Geoff Elliott makes the character his own. Of course, we soon meet the doomed Jacob Marley (Jeremy Rabb), the Ghost of Christmas Past (Deborah Strang), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Stanley Andrew Jackson), and the dour, shadowed Ghost of Christmas to Come. But the real star of the opus always remains Scrooge, who even manages a jig in the course of the show. The cast outdoes itself in this iconic play.

This is an artistic and beautiful production – from the silhouetted bell-ringers reminding everyone that it’s Christmas time to the cane wielding misanthrope who scatters the merry-makers. Almost like a living Christmas card, the scene sets in motion the story to follow. Kudos to this brilliant production team. Jeannie A. Ringer’s set design is perfect for the production, from the bare stage which is flexibly furnished as needed (obviously with the philosophy that less is more) to Angela Balogh Calin’s magnificent, colorful costumes and Tony Valdes’ wig and make-up design – which bring Victorian England back to life. Robert Oriol’s original music and sound design punctuate the goings-on, and Ken Booth’s lighting adds just the right touch.

If you’re in the mood for an artful production – which can also be poignant and sometimes even downright funny – then this is the play to get you in the mood for the holidays. And one more big plus – you can bring the little ones five or older to the show, which is definitely PG. Bundle up and get ready for a good old-fashioned English holiday season.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL runs through December 23, 2022, with performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday (12/3/22), at 2 p.m. on Sunday (12/4/22), at 7 p.m. on Friday (12/9/22), at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday (12/10)22, at 2 p.m. on Sunday (12/22/22), at 7 p.m. on Thursday (12/15/22), at 7 p.m. on Friday (12/16/22), at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday (12/17/22), at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday (12/18/22), at 2 p.m. on Wednesday(12/21/22), at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday (12/22/22), and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday (12/23/22). A Noise Within is located at 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107. Tickets start at $25 (students $18; Pay-What-You-Choose starting at $5 beginning the Monday prior to that performance; discounts for groups of 10 or more). The 11 a.m. matinee on Saturday, 12/10/22, will be a relaxed performance offering a shorter run time, freedom to talk and move around the theater, reduced lighting and sound effects, designated activity/relaxation spaces for a break; and trained staff to assist patrons. For further information about the relaxed program, go online. For information and reservations, call 626-356-3100 or go online.


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