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Monday, December 16, 2013


Kurt Beattie as Scrooge
Photo: Chris Bennion - See more at:

My emotional response to a simple bit of music and a few props embarrassed me. Tears pooled in my eyes before the production of “A Christmas Carol” at ACT—A Contemporary  Theatre in Seattle even began. As I took my seat, traditional English Christmas hymns moved me with the melodies and words I've heard all my life, and I stared at the scene of an street lamp with icicles, swirling snowflakes, and the drab sparseness of Ebenezer Scrooge’s office. Without the actors, it looked as empty and cold as Scrooge's heart seemed to be, yet “A Christmas Carol” is actually about warmth. It is about humanity’s deep well of hope, love, goodness, and even joy, even in the bleakest of times.

“A Christmas Carol” opened at ACT on November 29 in ACT’s Allen Arena and closes on December 29. Although you still have about two weeks left to see it, many shows have already sold out. Hurry to get tickets before you miss your chance. You will love the fine acting, the scenes, the perfect period costumes and most of all, the timeless message that people matter more than money and that the power of love changes everything.
Young cast members
Photo: Chris Bennion - See more at:
For 38 years, the theater at 700 Union Street has presented Charles Dicken’s classic tale of the mean and miserly Scrooge, his employee Bob Cratchit (Justin Alley), and Cratchit’s impoverished but loving family, including his crippled youngest son, Tiny Tim (Anna Ostrem). We have all met the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. I can’t count the number of versions of this story I’ve seen on stage and screen, but I had never actually seen ACT’s production and wondered how Gregory A. Fall’s adaptation of the well-worn tale, directed by John Langs, could prove to be much different. Trust me. It is.
On the night I attended, Artistic Director Kurt Beattie starred as Scrooge, but he is alternating with Peter Crook in this role. Behind Scrooge’s sharp tongue and bitter scowl hid a man who once knew love but did not cherish it. We all sat spellbound and silent. I should say silent except for two young children who for some reason burst into hysterical giggling every time they heard “Bah, humbug!” (By the way, no children under the age of five may attend.)
Dancing photo of the Cast of A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Photo: Chris Bennion - See more at:
An audience made up of several generations shared moments of tenderness, heartache, and humor while some of the best special effects I’ve ever seen on stage gave the ghostly visitations realistic eeriness, using dramatic lighting, mists, and props rising or descending through the stage floor. They caused the little girl next to me to cuddle closer to her adult companion and hide her face in a sleeve.
Beattie’s talent as an actor is equaled by his talent as a writer. His letter in the program, along with the words of Director John Langs, could be two of the most touching and uplifting pieces of writing you might read this season. I also enjoyed learning more about Charles Dickens in an article in the program, such as how he hated many of the same social and economic injustices affecting the present time. The classic story has never felt so relevant.
Dancing photo of the Cast of A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Photo: Chris Bennion - See more at:
Ebenezer Scrooge teaches us a lesson about regret. Don’t cause yourself any by missing “A Christmas Carol” at ACT. I missed it for 37 years, but I won't again. Go expecting to feel uplifted, nostalgic, serene, and reminded of the strength of the human spirit and the importance of kindness toward others. You might even find, in the shadows and mists, your own ghost of some Christmas Past.
For directions, parking, and other information, click here or call (206) 292-7676.

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