By Kevin T. Baldwin
METRMag Reviewer (Re-posting from Worcester Telegram & Gazette 12-16-2019)
WORCESTER - “A Christmas Carol” Adaptation by Troy Siebels based on the original Charles Dickens novel. Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge Street, Worcester, MA 01608. Performances: Dec. 15, 21 at 2:00pm, Dec. 15, 19, 21 & 23 at 7:00pm, Dec. 22 at 11:00am and 4:00pm. Ticket prices $28, $46 and $56 depending on seat location. Discounts are available for members and groups of ten or more. Students and kids are 50% off! Please contact the box office at 877.571.SHOW (7469) for more information.
Directed by Troy Siebels. Music Director Timothy Evans. Choreographer Ilyse Robbins.
Cast includes: Cast includes: Jeremy Lawrence, Marc Geller, Bill Mootos, Ellen Peterson, Tyler Bellmon, Andrew Crowe, Christopher Chew, Steve Gagliastro, Kathy St. George, Kylie Benoit, Tyler Keogh, Charlotte Siebels, Michael Skrzek, Tim Jones, Stephanie Carlson, Lily Steven, Annie Kerins, Adeline Canney, Carter Siebels, Addelyn Esposito, Genevieve Lussier, Laura D. DeGiacomo, Viktoria Chiappa, Brad Foster Reinking, Shelly Willis Fawson, Mark Linehan, Meredith Gosselin, Preston Langlois, Millie Chew, Lucy DeMeo.
During his eight seasons as “Scrooge” for the Hanover Theatre’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” actor Jeremy Lawrence has brought a witty, curmudgeonly, idiosyncratic take to the old miser in Charles Dickens’ tale of redemption.
However, in this adaptation written by Troy Siebels, Lawrence also brought to the role an element of humanity as Scrooge undergoes his incredible personal transformation.
This year, as has been the case since the annual staging began, Siebels’ adaptation presents a simplified rendition of the Dickensian story with the ensemble serving as narrators.
Simultaneously, the variation also provides a complexity in the way the story unfolds through use of impressive special effects and resourcefully constructed scenery of a small populace in 1800s London.
Always using traditional holiday carols to help move the story along, the cast is quite effective due to Siebels’ clockwork staging and the established choreography of Ilyse Robbins.
Scrooge’s deceased business partner, Jacob Marley (Marc Geller), comes to issue a warning to Scrooge that he will be ’visited” by three ghosts: the Spirits of Christmases Past (Kylie Benoit), Present (Christopher Chew) and “Yet to Come” (Mark Linehan).
As has been the case since Lawrence began the role of Scrooge at the Hanover in 2012, he has terrific interactions with all of the actors and ensemble.
Siebels has changed certain elements in scenes and most are hardly noticeable. However, those that are noticeable are quite welcome.
In particular, in previous year the primary Narrator of the show, names "Timothy" (Bill Mootos), at the end of Act One, elicits a sinister laugh which has been replaced. This seems like a good call since, once the identity of “Timothy” is revealed at the end of the show, when one recalls that particular moment, it seems highly out of character.
The ensemble voices, under the musical direction of Timothy Evans, seemed as strong as ever.
The show has become a holiday tradition and one well worth continuing. However, change is a constant in any working relationship, and Lawrence will exit the Hanover family after the final “Christmas Carol” curtain closes this year.
Yet Lawrence’s humanizing portrayal of “Scrooge” is one many have come to look forward to over the past eight Christmas seasons and one that will surely be missed.
Whatever the “Spirit of Christmas Future” has in store for the Hanover production in the years that follow, it has weathered cast changes from the “Spirit of Christmas Past” and, as long as Siebels’ adaptation remains true to itself, we can expect to see many more seasons of a truly superb “Christmas Carol.”
Show runs approximately two hours 15 Minutes with a 15 minute intermission.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)