SPIRITS ARE HAUNTING HARTFORD STAGE’S “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”

By Bonnie Goldberg

Christmas is a holiday for people who are open hearted and generous, joyful and grateful.  But what if you are mean spirited, grumpy and greedy, with a heart as closed up tight as the Pharaoh of Egypt or a miserable miser who never learned how to share. The epitome of ingratitude and selfishness is surely Ebenezer Scrooge and he is ready and willing to defend his sullen attitude until Monday, December 30 in the Hartford Stage’s glorious and ghostly adaptation by Michael Wilson of Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol.”

Bill Raymond for the seventeenth and last year will be donning his night cap and assuming the persona of our favorite bah humbug curmudgeon, old Ebenezer Scrooge, who refuses to acknowledge the Christmas holiday and begrudges his faithful and hard working employee Bob Cratchit, the loyal Robert Hannon Davis, even one day off a year with pay. This year, however, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge’s old partner in business Marley, dead seven years, comes back to warn Scrooge to mend his ways or he is fated to join Marley in a place of deep regrets.

To help and encourage Scrooge to change, Marley (Noble Shropshire) is sending him three spirits, the Spirit of Christmas Past (Johanna Morrison), the Spirit of Christmas Present (Alan Rust) and the Spirit of Christmas Future on Christmas Eve at 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Scrooge will be given the opportunity to review his past life and see what he had in life and what he lost and what he can still achieve if he is willing to change.

Along the way, our cranky businessman visits a former employer Mr. Fezziwig  (Charlie Tirrell), his fiancee Belle (Flor De Liz Perez), his nephew Fred (Terrell Donnell Sledge) and the home of his clerk Bob who has a crippled son Tiny Tim (Charlize Calcagno or Hunter Cruz). At each step of the journey, Scrooge has his eyes opened wider to see what the world has to offer if he only opens his heart to the possibilities. Meanwhile ghosts swirl and fly in a masked ball of supernatural steps. They are here to scare a little sense into Mr. Scrooge and help him to avoid Marley’s disastrous fate.

By the end of Christmas Eve, Scrooge declares “I am not the man I was. I will learn the lessons I have been told. I will dispel the shadows.” When he sends for the prize turkey, he has clearly come to his senses and begs forgiveness from the town’s people in general and his family in particular. Artistic Associate Rachel Alderman has added personal touches to this production to make it even more special than usual. Buzz Roddy inhabits the persona of Scrooge at student performances.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org/christmas-carol. Performances are Tuesday to Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Donations of food for the holiday drive are encouraged at each performance.

Don’t let the holiday season escape without a visit to that most famous of cantankerous curmudgeons, Ebenezer Scrooge, who transforms himself into a new man thanks to the visitations of a trio of ghosts.

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