Friday, December 7, 2018

Cygnet’s “A Christmas Carol” In Excellent Shape For The Holidays

Dickens “A Christmas Carol” is just as you remembered as seen on the stage at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town through Dec. 30th.  It was like old times once again watching Tom Stephenson, as the bitter Mr. Scrooge causing pain and grief to all those wishing to spread Christmas cheer.

As the mainstay in Dickens story, the world of Tiny Tim and his family, the caroler’s on the streets and those spreading good cheer, Scrooge stands alone as he grinds out his famous –“Bah”- from putting more coal on the fire in his tiny office to offering a few coins for the poor to having the beejeasus scared out of him when he comes face to face with ghost his old partner, Jacob Marley (David McBean).

Tom Stephenson
Be prepared to expect an already ongoing Carol fest as you enter the theatre. All the fixin’s and soon to be characters are there. Getting us into the mood is the first order of business with Megan Carmitchel, Charles Evans, JR., Melissa Fernandes, Melinda Gilb, Patrick McBride, and David McBean. Songs and corny jokes (“What did the duck say when he got some lipstick?” “Put it on my bill.” Ouch!) Stuff like that warms up an audience and gives a quaint familiarity with 'Carol's' of the past.. And then, and then again there’s Scrooge played by the remarkably talented Tom Stephenson.

Credit artistic director Sean Murray for this adaptation. Billy Thompson’s, original score and Tom Stephenson’s incredible personification of Scrooge as he weaves his way through his all to lonely childhood to becoming the bitter and icy cold persona of Ebenezer Scrooge to the smiling (ear to ear) gentle, almost Santa looking picture with Tiny Tim on his lap at show’s end is a delight.

Cast (Ken Jacques)
Cygnet’s production is charming with just the right amount of fright factor and love to attract old and young alike although McBean’s Marley can be a bit over the top and frightening with his long unkempt gray (sometimes red) hair, arms stretching out and locked in chains crisscrossing his body.

With and an assortment of backlighting by Kyle Montgomery to make him look as if he just stepped out of his coffin (Oops, he did) and mile high shoes, the point is well taken. The bigger than life McBean steps into his role as if he was born to it.

Melissa. Fernandes is always a delight as she takes on about seven or eight characters including Scrooge’s housekeeper, Mrs. Dilber and Mrs. Cratchit the loving mother of Tiny Tim playing opposite Patrick McBride as Cratchit.

Melinda Gilb is the errant Cratchit kid always wanting more food, as the table grew bare by the scene, as well as one of those collecting for the poor. She also adds a bit of humor hamming it up in “Twelve Days of Christmas” before the show.  

Megan Carmitchel and Charles Evans, Jr. and Patrick McBride change characters with the blink of an eye. All lend their particular part of harmonizing making this “Christmas Carol” one fine choice for a holiday treat.

I was particularly impressed with the puppets (designed by Rachel Hengst, Lynne Jennings and Michel McKeon) and the way the actors handled them. It gives the show a very different and genuinely warm quality.

David McBean and Tom Stephenson (Ken Jacques)
Jeanne Reith’s 18th century Victorian costumes (based on original design by Shirley Pierson), Andrew Hull’s multi purpose set with musical director Patrick Marion behind the piano in the background, Katie Banville’s choreography, Kyle Montgomery’s lighting design (based on original design by R. Craig Wolf), Matt Lescault-Wood’s sound, and Michael McKeon, Lynne Jennings and Rachel Hengst wonderful puppets all come together in this well organized production.  


See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Dec. 30th
Organization: Cygnet Theatre Co.
Phone: 619-337-1525
Production Type: Musical
Where: 4040 Twiggs St, San Diego, CA 92110
Ticket Prices: 35.00-$65.00
Photo: Ken Jacques and Daren Scott


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