If you don’t know the story of the stingy miser, visited by four ghosts on the night before Christmas, who is reformed into a person who keeps “Christmas in his heart all year long,” you must have been living under a rock. A cold, undecorated rock. Nonetheless, a brief description follows.
Ancient Ebenezer Scrooge (artfully played by a surprisingly young Jeff Horst), the most unpleasant businessman in London, makes no friends during the Christmas season, coldly snubbing charitable solicitors and street urchins looking for a handout, and freezing and overworking his humble clerk, Bob Cratchit (Eddie Staver III), a married man with four children, one of whom is the ailing Tiny Tim.
The night before Christmas, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley (Andrew H. Lyons), who is being tormented in the afterlife because of the uncharitable and selfish existence he led while alive. In an effort to warn Scrooge off the same fate, he reports Scrooge will shortly be visited by three ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past (Sarah Koster), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Chris Egging), and the forbidding Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. All endeavor to turn Scrooge from his present path to everlasting damnation. By showing Scrooge the mistakes of his past, the unpleasantness of his present, and his dismal and frightening future, they succeed, and Scrooge lives the remainder of his life a changed man (all to the good for Bob Cratchit and son Tiny Tim).
Technically, the show is in large part a winner. Plenty of period costumes (1886) on the large, multi-age ensemble, imposing Victorian-style set pieces, and, most amazingly, an auto-controlled four-poster bed that made its own way around and off the stage, set the time and place convincingly. Lots of standard 19th century Christmas songs and carols, and a few I’d not heard before, helped with the festive mood. The four-person orchestra was adequate to support the songs that were harmoniously rendered by the cast.
My only quibbles with the production were that the personal microphones the actors wore were set fairly low and so dialogue was sometimes hard to hear in the Fox (already known for poor acoustics). Also, to make the original short novella worthy as a major theatrical endeavor (2 hours 25 minutes with one intermission), LOTS of padding was in place that didn’t advance the story, but was there just because they wanted to fill time. These places were all too obvious and I could just hear much of the audience thinking, “get ON with it.”
Despite these minor points, NTC’s A Christmas Carol helped put me and several hundred other St. Louisans in a holiday frame of mind.