âA Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmasâ
Through Dec. 30
511 10thÂ Street, NW
Not yet in the holiday spirit? Then make a beeline to Fordâs Theatre for a jolt of yuletide cheer.
Fordâs has been presenting Charles Dickensâ Christmas classic since 1979, but for the last several years itâs been retelling the Scrooge story with an especially entertaining and timely adaptation by Michael Wilson titled âA Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.â
Adeptly staged by gay director Michael Baron, this version is spookier than previous productions with its haunted house effects (spinning bed, talking portrait, booming thunderclaps and flashes of lighting); but itâs also merrier. The show begins with happy 19th century Londoners ambling through the historic theater, welcoming audience members. Baron has also added song and dance including familiar carols like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “O Christmas Tree” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.â And the holiday bash at the Fezziwigsâ (a pleasant memory from Scroogeâs youth) is a lively dance number led by a terrific Rick Hammerly as the jolly host.
But the heart of this âA Christmas Carolâ is Edward Geroâs marvelous portrayal of that formidable miser whose icy heart is melted after nocturnal visitors open his eyes to the joys of the season. His Scroogeâs gradual transformation from miserable misanthrope to generous, joyous uncle, feels wholly believable.
As the kindly and elegant Ghost of Christmas Past, Felcia Curry floats above the stage, the dazzling incarnation of a sparkly little marionette seen earlier in the London marketplace. Other ghosts include James Konicek as Scroogeâs long dead friend and business partner Jacob Marley, Jane Stone as the saucy and straight shooting Ghost of Christmas Present and a floating silent specter (Curry again) as the terrifying Ghost of Christmas future.
Set designer Lee Savage supplies a soaring Victorian iron structure inspired by Londonâs Convent Garden marketplace and dominated by an imposing clock that portentously marks the comings and goings of Scroogeâs ghostly visitors. Alejo Vietti expertly costumes the cast in period top hats, bonnets, hoop skirts and night shirts â all that weâve come to associate with strolling carolers and late night Christmas tales.
Wilsonâs script is relevantly witty, sometimes a little darkly so: When raising a glass, old Scrooge makes a toast to âa quick foreclosure.â Ouch. Wilson also includes some nice glimpses into the modest life of Scroogeâs clerk, Bob Cratchit, and his wife nicely played by John Lescault and Amy McWilliams respectively.
Other standouts in a fine cast comprised of many local actors include the fetching Helen Hedman who plays both gracious Mrs. Fezziwig and Scroogeâs wily housekeeper Mrs. Dilber; Tom Story as Scroogeâs good-humored nephew; and Gregory Maheu as the eager but slightly awkward young bachelor Topper. The castâs children sing sweetly and give very natural performances. Holden Browne and Sam Ellis rotate the role of Tiny Tim.
Though Dickensâ Christmas story is old, its message and Fordâs production feel anything but.