Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
New Twist on the Magic of Christmas Past, Present, and Future
So I was delighted when something new appeared in the ALT staging. Here, as a different take, an adaption I wasn't aware of. And I've seen so many with my kidsScrooged with Bill Murray, the version with Donald Duck, the Flintstones, the Muppets, Bugs Bunny, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, Mr. Magoo, Nicolas Cage, Whoopi Goldberg, Sesame Street, the Smurfs. That doesn't count the live versions or the radio plays. Whew.
Yet here I wasplenty jaded but still willingas I watched a stage manager appear on stage pestering a Tiny Tim-looking kid in front of a small gypsy wagon. The stage manager was demanding to know where Marley's chains were. The kid didn't know. NiftyA Christmas Carol meets Our Town. Out comes a narrator/director in the form of Ray Orley, who is always great. When Orley's around you know you're in good company. They may be on to something here.
Pretty soon the stage is crowded with a motley bunch who are tearing apart the wagon to create a makeshift stage, and off we go into the world of Ebenezer Scrooge. All of a sudden a tired story goes magical. The adaptation comes from Doris Baizley, a member of L.A. Theatre Works. Her version first saw stage lights in 1991. It's a delightful adaptation in part because the actors who play the Dickens characters are very much the same personalities as the characters they portray, and the magical transformation of the fictional characters also happens to the actors. Nice touch.
As can be expected from the annual Christmas show at ALT, the quality is high in all areas, from casting to costumes (Carolyn Hogan and Sharron Welz) to the elaborately clever set (Daniel K. Tabeling). Director Barbara Geary keeps the pace lively, delivering the surprising illusion that the expected events in the story are fresh. Dehron Foster is delightful as the crabby stage manager turned into Scrooge. He is so grumpy going into the action, it's startling to see his joyfulness as the redeemed Scrooge.
Other standout performances come from Jackson Murrieta as Tiny Tim and the troupe's prop boy. Murrieta has much more to do here given the Baizley adaption. Orley delivers a robust Marley in addition to his role as the narrator/director. Nicholas Handley is terrific as Bob Cratchit, and Isaiah Lee Romero Cordova delivers a nice nephew Fred in his first turn on the ALT stage. Kudos to all the other magical creatures and strange beings who flutter across the colorful stage. A merry performance by all.
A Christmas Carol, adapted by Doris Baizley and directed by Barbara Geary, will run at Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, through December 24, 2015. The show starts at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2:00 pm on Sundays. On Thursday, Thursday, Dec. 17, Tuesday, Dec. 22, and Wednesday, Dec. 23, there will be 7:30 pm performances. On Saturday Dec. 19 there will be a 2:00 pm performance, and on Christmas Eve there will be a 1:00 pm performance. Tickets are $24 for adults, $22 for seniors (65 and above), $20 for students (13 to college), and $14 for children (12 and under). You can buy tickets online at albuquerquelittletheatre.org or by phone at 242-4750, ext. 2.