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'A Christmas Carol' Returns to LTA

Erin P. Doherty
By Erin P. Doherty
Posted on Dec 08,2016
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,

Photo by Doug Olmsted
Tony Gilbert (Scrooge)

Timeless Life Lessons Considered with Fresh Perspectives, Special Effects

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - LTA’s one-act, one-hour, 21-scene production of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” is a must see. The lighting design team (Jeffrey Scott Auerbach and Kimberly Crago) ensures that the sky over the 1843 Dickensian village changes from classic London bleakness to rosiness, reflecting the positive—and literally, overnight—changes in Scrooge’s outlook and his resulting good works that begin on Christmas Day.

Tony Gilbert (Scrooge) makes the starring role his own by addressing the audience as if they are townspeople, instead of relying on the narrators (Michelle Ballard, Kathryne Gould, Pat Jannelle, Sherry Lord, and Tameka Taylor). He is a senior citizen without being the traditional “oldest old” Scrooge.

He evolves from what Dickens called "a squeezing, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner, hard and sharp as flint" new man. The director (Michael J. Baker) played Scrooge five times under three directors, which has given him the perspective to turn the role inside out to highlight Scrooge’s introspective view of the world and the audience. Further, the actors pull the audience in by making full use of the aisles in a couple of places.

The Headmaster (James Pearson) exudes sufficient creepiness to makes one relieved for the young boy Ebenezer Scrooge (James Kennedy) when his sister Fan (Viktoria Truitt) surprises him with the happy news that she and Father were rescuing him from the nearly deserted boarding school with that guy.

Frequent theatergoer Raymond Linkow remembers something he liked on the set of a previous production. “I miss the Big Ben-like clock but the actors effectively convey the passing of time.”

One actor (Lawrence O. Grey, Jr.) aptly plays two polar opposites, Jacob Marley’s ghost and Fezziwig. As Marley, he verbally warns Scrooge to become more other centered. As Fezziwig, he embodies the spirit of Christmas and its joy in generosity. As Marley, he uses props effectively, including the mirror at Scrooge’s home and the door knocker.

After Marley leaves, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future arrive and depart in rapid succession to show Scrooge what Marley verbally and figuratively (with chains) implores him to consider.The Ghost of Christmas Present (Janette Moman) evokes memories of Mama Cass’s assertiveness. The Ghost of Christmas Future (Pat Jannell) appears larger than life. As the Ghost of Christmas Past (Clare Baker) convincingly implores Scrooge to reform his stingy ways.

Three buildings (Mary Hutzler) are turned around to show the inside or outside quickly and smoothly. They are used for more than three settings from Scrooge’s life. Scrooge’s grim Counting House changes into Fezziwig’s when a sign is slid across on a clothesline (Austin Fodrie). Fezziwig’s wife’s (Michelle Ballard’s) flawless harmonization and the choreography (Grace Manly Machanic) make this scene all the more enjoyable.

Marley’s startling appearances are all effective and more frequent than ever. Three additional spirits stay with Marley throughout Christmas Eve.

Fred’s (Brendan Quinn’s) persistence in nurturing whatever relationship is possible with his recalcitrant Uncle Scrooge eventually pays off.

Michael J. Baker, Jr. (Director) freshens this production without taking too many liberties. For example, he shows things that are referenced in other productions but not shown, such as the chapel, the schoolhouse, Scrooge’s bedchamber, Marley’s underworld, and Scrooge’s funeral procession. However many times the audience members have enjoyed this classic production, there is something new for each person.

Bob Cratchit (Matthew Fager) and Mrs. Cratchit (Hilary Adams) play warm and loving parents without being syrupy sweet. Their children follow suit, including Tiny Tim (Josh Gordon), who sings sweetly. Scrooge’s generosity to Tiny Tim is particularly heartwarming as he tries to compensate for lost time on Christmas Day.

“A Christmas Carol” is playing through December 17 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St. Tickets are available at 703-683-0496 or

Photo by Doug Olmsted
Penelope Gallagher(Belle’s Daughter), Eva Jaber (Belle’s Child#1), Clare Baker (Ghost of Christmas Past)

Photo by Doug Olmsted
Eva Jaber (Want),Janette Moman (Ghost of Christmas Present), Morgan Jay (Ignorance)

Photo by Doug Olmsted
Tony Gilbert(Scrooge) and Josh Gordon (Tiny Tim)

Photo by Doug Olmsted
Full cast

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