A virtual Who’s Who of veteran A Noise Within resident artists join forces with a sensational design team under the inspired direction of Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott to bring audiences ANW’s first production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in a baker’s dozen years.

ACC373-1024x681 With about ten (if not more) A Christmas Carols to choose from within an hour’s radius of downtown L.A. (everything from Zombie Joe’s wonderfully creepy, kooky hour-long version to South Coast Rep’s sumptuous 34-year-old tradition), deciding which ACC to see comes down to how the oft-told story is told.

ACC171-1024x753 A Noise Within tells it with abundant imagination, flair, humor, and quite a bit of music and song thrown in, resulting in a 90-minute production sure to delight adults and children alike, and one that may well win over even theatergoers as grouchy as Ebenezer Scrooge once was.

As befits “California’s Home For The Classics,” Geoff Elliott’s adaptation keeps us ever mindful of its literary source, a contemporarily outfitted, velvet-voiced Robertson Dean narrating the tale direct from Dickens’ original text.

With scenic designer Jeanine A. Ringer’s marvelously fluid set taking us from locale to locale, aided and abetted by composer-sound designer Ego Plum’s holiday mood-setting music and spooky background effects, Ken Booth’s gorgeous lighting design, and Angela Balogh Calin’s supremely imaginative costumes, it becomes as easy as Christmas pie to abandon adult skepticism and allow oneself to be transported into the world of theatrical magic the directors Elliott and team have confectioned.

ACC124-819x1024 The evening’s most vivid memories include Mitchell Edmonds’ Ghost of Jacob Marley’s myriad of chains extending way over the audience’s heads and up into the rafters, Deborah Strang’s Ghost of Christmas Past’s appearance as if out of nowhere on a garden swing in a ruffled white fairy-princess gown and black bowler hat, and Alan Blumenfeld’s twelve-foot tall Ghost of Christmas Present, adorned in more fresh fruit than Carmen Miranda wore in her entire life.

ACC102-1024x819 Plum’s tuneful songs (“Glorious” is one you’ll be remembering long after you leave the theater) make this A Christmas Carol very nearly a full-fledged musical, and under DeReau K. Farrar’s musical direction, the entire cast vocalize quite marvelously indeed.

A Noise Within resident artists and guest performers deliver one gem of a performance after another.

ACC187-1024x710 In addition to the always marvelous Blumenfeld (also Benevolent Gentleman), Edmonds (also Old Joe), and Strang (doubling memorably as a gruff Charwoman), the master thespian that is Geoff Elliott makes for a delightfully droll Scrooge, while longtime A Noise Within resident artists Stephen Rockwell and Jill Hill do their accustomed fine work as the Cratchits. Frequent ANW visitor Rafael Goldstein gives us a warm and bubbly Fred (and Younger Scrooge), while understudy Katelyn Schiller (Belle, Laundress), Diana Gonzalez-Morrett (Martha Cratchit, Fred’s Wife), Abigail Marks (Mrs. Fezziwig), Brendan Haley (Peter Cratchit, Youngest Scrooge), Georgia Miller (Belinda Cratchit, Little Fan), Jack Elliott (Cratchit Twin, Turkey Boy), Marie Sullivan (Cratchit Twin), and Shane McDermott (Tiny Tim) all deliver finely-etched cameos, the cast ably completed by ensemble members Sydney Berk, Nicholas Jenkins, Seven Pierce-English, Ricshan Rankins, Jamie Sadd, and Erin Scerbak.

Additional design elements by wig, hair, and makeup designer Caity Hawksley and prop master Kristina Teves are particularly fine. Nike Doukas’s dialect coaching is as always impeccable.

ACC087-1024x819 Ellyn Costello is stage manager and Emily Joe assistant stage manager. Lindy Dusenbery is production manager, Maria Uribe costume shop manager, Jan Kellogg assistant lighting designer, and Sadd wig assistant.

A Noise Within’s decision to stage A Christmas Carol for the very first time since 2000 is good tidings indeed for those who can’t let December pass without at least one return visit to the mid-19th Century London of Ebenezer Scrooge. Here’s hoping it becomes an annual Pasadena tradition.

A Noise Within, 3352 East Foothill Blvd, Pasadena.

–Steven Stanley
December 7, 2013
Photos: Craig Schwartz

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.