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A Christmas Carol

Mention "Scrooge" and the first thing that comes to most minds is "Bah! Humbug!"—the name and the signature cynicism are synonymous with the most famous cantankerous miser—but let us not forget that old Ebenezer is one of the most delightful and generally underappreciated gems of the season, for he undergoes a miraculous transformation that never fails to remind us of what this holiday is all about.

Philip Pleasants as Ebenezer Scrooge
Philip Pleasants
as Ebenezer Scrooge
Photo: Terry Shapiro
The role of Scrooge is challenging because the actor must make us despise him and yet show some fissure in his dastardly fasçade that makes his eventual redemption believable. There are a few ways to accomplish this, but Philip Pleasants takes the most difficult one and makes it look easy. Why this fellow isn't on Broadway can only be explained by the Denver Center Theatre Company's (DCTC) rare and rewarding ensemble approach.

Pleasants pulls no punches from the get go, spitting out Scrooge's disdain for his employee, charity, and "the surplus population." Seasoned observers of Dickens' personal favorite piece are forced to wonder how such a bitter man will ever convincingly have a change of heart.

Stephanie Cozart as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Stephanie Cozart as the
Ghost of Christmas Past
Photo: Terry Shapiro
As we've noted before, Pleasants' genius is in the details: the series of passing incremental shadings that slowly but surely inform us that underneath the prickly barnacles of Scrooge's façade, lies a hurt boy in need of love. We won't recount these details here, only encourage you to go see Pleasants' masterful performance and experience them for yourself.

DCTC's current adaptation of the classic is still relatively new and still raising the bar for exquisite craftmanship. Director Bruce K. Sevy continues to refine the staging, which fully realizes the Dickensian milieu of late 19th Century London. Gregg Coffin's orchestrations supplemented by Thom Jenkins, and Craig Breitenbach's sound design, coupled with Kevin Copenhaver's stunning array of refined costumes, Vicki Smith's evocative and flavorful settings, Christine Rowan's sublime choreography, Kathryn G. Maes well-tempered dialect coaching, all stunningly accented by Don Darnutzer's lighting, bring Richard Hellesen's adaptation and David de Berry's music to full fruition.

(Top to Bottom) Charlie Korman as Tiny Tim, Sam Gregory as Bob Cratchit, Ellie Schwartz, Zoe Miller and Connor Nguyen Erickson
(Top to Bottom)
Charlie Korman as Tiny Tim,
Sam Gregory as Bob Cratchit,
Ellie Schwartz, Zoe Miller and
Connor Nguyen Erickson
Photo: Terry Shapiro
Where to start with so many fine actors: Sam Gregory's touching performance as Bob Cratchit; M. Scott McLean's genial and imperturbable Fred, Scrooge's nephew; Mike Harman's gritty Ghost of Jacob Marley; Leslie O'Carroll and Michael Fitzpatrick's comic delight as the Fezziwigs; Renée Brna's glowing turns as Belle and Martha; Melinda Parrett's crisp repartee as Fred's wife; Linda Mubleston's warm and principled Mrs. Cratchet; Stephanie Cozart's inscrutable Ghost of Christmas Past; Larry Bull's jovial Ghost of Christmas Present; Harvey Blanks' telling cameos; just to name a few.

The Denver Center Theatre Company's production of A Christmas Carol runs through December 26th. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows

 

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