At the Grand Theatre,
A Christmas Carol has become a bit of a holiday tradition, and rightfully so. This year marks the 6th time that this story has been brought to life on a Grand Theatre stage. That being said, the artistic director of the Grand, Dennis Garnhum, introduces a new twist on the old classic: for the first time on a Canadian stage, Scrooge is portrayed as a woman. The talented cast, including individuals of all ages, invites audience members to look on the classic tale in a new light. The show follows the traditional plot line of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, keeping true to the well-loved tale. The story follows Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Jan Alexandra Smith, as she learns to appreciate the value of human kindness and generosity. The story begins with the burial of Scrooge’s old business partner Jacob Marley,played by Patrick Monaghan. The audience then gets a snapshot of Scrooge at work as she angrily agrees to give her employee, Bob Cratchit, played by Sean Arbuckle, a day off to celebrate Christmas with his family. When Scrooge goes home for the night, she is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, and she is forced into spending a night conversing with the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future.
The set and lighting choices are innovative and help modernize the classic story. As the curtains are drawn, a projection, similar to a movie screen, is used to kick off the performance, and it provides an introduction to the story. Furthermore, the moveable set pieces add unique elements to the show and allow the actors on stage to immerse themselves into the world of A Christmas Carol. For example, the walls of Scrooge’s bedroom have a piece of stretchable fabric with unseen slits cut into it. When Jacob Marley and a number of other ghosts enter the scene, they come through the wall, making it seem as if the ghosts appear out of nowhere. A brilliant use of lighting occurs when Scrooge visits the
future. Three men stand around a fire pit and orange light cascades over the entire stage, making hanging icicles glisten in warmth. The costumes also have a lot of thought put into them. Many of the townspeople have on traditional red and green outfits, which contrast the dark shades that Scrooge wears. The colouring of clothing also becomes an interesting detail when Scrooge, after listening to the spirits, decides to wear red. The spirits of Christmas Past and Present both wear shades of white and the spirit of christmas future is dressed in a way that adds to the already haunting character; The spirit of Christmas Future is on stilts and is draped in a black, hooded robe. In addition, it has a skeleton face, spindly hands, and a glowing rib cage.
Jan Alexandra Smith is a captivating Ebenezer Scrooge and certainly does justice to the role. She is articulate and is entertaining to watch even when she is not speaking. Her physicality throughout the performance is one of the show’s highlights. The contrast between the Scrooge in the first scene and the Scrooge in the last scene is phenomenal. After she has been visited by the three spirits, she becomes kind, and speaks to her maid, played by Nikki Duval, with unparalleled enthusiasm; viewers can’t help but smile.
If you would like to see new twists on a classic story, A Christmas Carol at the Grand Theatre is the perfect show for you! The show is an amazing way to kick off the holiday season. To witness this Christmas tradition, visit the Grand Theatre’s webpage: https://tickets.grandtheatre.com/single/psDetail.aspx?psn=8288