Monday, November 24, 2014

A Christmas Carol 2014

"A Christmas Carol" just again opened this year at the Omaha Community Playhouse.  With over 1000 performances, this seasonal favorite is beginning its 39th consecutive season.
Obviously many people in the area have seen this show at some time.  Why see it again?   Omaha Community Playhouse purposely changes the show each year.  Yes, the story is the same but small changes can make enormous differences.
This year's show is outstanding and one that you don't want to miss.
"A Christmas Carol" is not a musical.  Charles Dickens is known for his writing, not his music.   Throughout this play are many traditional British Christmas carols of the time period..  Many of these are gorgeously sung by the cast such as "Coventry Carol", "Susanni", and "O Come, O Come Imanuel"  with rich four-part harmonies.  The children's version of "Away in a Manger" is beautiful and amazingly balanced with their voices perfectly blending.  The dancing is simplistic while being both tasteful and realistic.
As usual the sets, costumes, and props are gorgeous with actors that are all superb with each one possessing a confident stage presence, even the children are mature and experienced performers.  All of this creates the magic in a show combining the talent of the cast and crew while remaining true to the original story.
A noticeable difference is that both the character of Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit are allowed time to develop their characters not only through words but actions.  For example, Bob Cratchit portrayed by Steve Krambeck is obviously cold while working at his desk in Scrooge's office.  He is shivering and wrapped in his coat and wearing gloves while he completing his bookkeeping work.  To help warm up he attempts to take coal to add to his small fire in his bucket under his desk.  This small act quickly establishing the character of both the miserly Scrooge and Cratchit.
The sets, props, costumes, wigs and make-up are outstanding.   Some people have more than one part so changing their complete identity is critical but masterfully accomplished.
One adaptive change with this particular performance is the integration of the Christmas story complete with shepherds, three kings and a manger into Ebenezer's past.  This addition blends perfectly into the story.  Why wasn't this is the original story?  It makes sense and adds to the understanding of the relationship between Ebenezer and his sister.
The part of Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Jerry Longe.  For many in the area, it is difficult to imagine or accept a Scrooge who is not the Dick Boyd but Jerry Longe successfully creates a slightly different Scrooge and is wonderful in this part.  Unquestionably Steve Krambeck is one of the best actors portraying Bob Cratchit that I have ever seen.  He spends the time to develop his relationship with Scrooge and his family not always through words but his actions and gestures along with Emily Mokrycki as his wife.  Both are wonderful actors and singers.
Everybody has favorites in this show.  Mr. Fezziwig is delightful in this version as portrayed by Gregg Learned as well as both the Ghost of Christmas Past played by Julie Huff who was also a delight in the bedchamber along with Marguerite Bennett.  Mackenzie Reidy asTiny Tim has a beautiful singing voice.   Dancing as the beggar is the wonderful Jason Delong and as Little Boy Blue and Little Bo Peep are Natalie and Alexis Reynolds creating the wonderful life-sized dolls.
The music perfectly enhances this show with the small orchestra never overwhelming the singers but beautifully setting the mood and complementing the singers.  Also the choreography smoothly blends into the show.  The lighting, sound system, and special effects are perfect creating a supportive crew for the cast and a delight to the audience.
The behind-the-scences directors and stage managers obviously are outstanding for a show to run so seamlessly and professionally.  As always, the Omaha Community Playhouse box office staff,  ticket takers and ushers are courteous, helpful and gracious to everyone.
The shows begin at 7:30 on Wednesdays through Saturdays with the first act lasting seventy minutes and after a fifteen minute intermission, concludes in sixty minutes.   The Christmas carols, dances, and play are mixed throughout keeping a fast-paced and quickly moving performance.
"A Christmas Carol" will continue at the Omaha Community Playhouse located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha through December 23rd with shows Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and two shows on Sundays at 2 and 6:30 p.m.   Tickets can be purchased by contacting the box office at (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse. org or Presently the ticket prices are $ 36 for adults and $ 25 for students.   After December 15th, the price increases to $ 40 for adults and $ 29 for students with special rates for groups over twelve people.
Wanting to give a special family gift this year?  The Omaha Community Theater has the solution with a special family gift package for their upcoming show "Little Women" which will open in January 2015.  Contact the box office for additional information.
So why should you see "A Christmas Carol" this year?  This is an outstanding show that will  leave you humming the carols while putting a smile on your face and unquestionably rejuvenating the Christmas spirit in everyone.

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