REVIEW: A Christmas Carol

Douglas Rees and Bruce Cromer in A CHRISTMAS CAROL / Photo by Sandy Underwood
Douglas Rees and Bruce Cromer in A CHRISTMAS CAROL / Photo by Sandy Underwood

One of our city’s artistic treasures is the annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and for good reason.  Now in its 24th year, this true-to-Dicken’s adaptation is once again a creative success.

Bruce Cromer, in his 10th year as Ebenezer Scrooge, commands the stage with his unique physicality and bombastic voice.  He’s nasty and silly and harsh and hilarious – just like a family friendly version of Scrooge should be.  He is joined on stage by a host of Cincinnati favorites like Dale Hodges, Nick Rose, Annie Fitzpatrick, Greg Proccacino, Kelly Mengelkoch, Jared Joplin, Stephen Skiles, and more in a visual holiday feast as they tell the traditional tale of redemption.

Cromer was put in the uncomfortable position of having to hold due to a technical glitch.  Once the extended delay was over, he came back on stage and immediately recaptured the attention of the crowd with his ad lib.  It turned an awkward event into a wonderful memory for those in attendance.

There were many families in attendance at this opening night performance; it is nice to see more young people at the theatre.  It’s shows like one that instill an early love for live theatre; its important.  I’m glad that its a great show so that their first exposure is not just a technical marvel but an acting exhibition as well.

Some of the things I most enjoyed:

  • Douglas Rees and Annie Fitzpatrick make wonderful (new) Fezziwigs. I love their energy.
  • Ryan Wesley Gilreath is as physical a Bob Cratchit as Cromer is as Scrooge; their chemistry together is wonderful.
  • Dale Hodges plays little old ladies as well as anyone . . . especially because she’s far from a little old lady in “real life.”
  • The sheer joy that Scrooge feels after waking up alive on Christmas Day is infectious; I love a good redemption story and this is one of the best.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a wonderful holiday tradition that will live on for years to come via the sponsorship and artistic dedication of so many people.  I hope that all my friends – especially those who’ve not ever seen it – will make an effort to go and relive this enduring story once again in a most delightful way.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL runs through December 28th in the Marx Theatre at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.  Tickets start at $35.  Click here for more information.

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