A Christmas Carol – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

What would this time of year be without a retelling of Charles Dickens’ immortal tale about forgiveness, redemption and change of heart? Have no fear as the Hartford Stage is ready and most willing to welcome you with a spirited version for your family’s pleasure.

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 Sunday, December 24 in the Hartford Stage’s glorious and ghostly adaptation by Michael Wilson of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol A Ghost Story of Christmas,” a family tradition since 1998. It is now back livelier then even after a three year absence due to the pandemic.

For the first time Allen Gilmore 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 Ryan Garbayo, even one day off a year with pay. This year, however, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge’s old partner in business Jacob Marley (Noble Shropshire), dead as a door nail lo these 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 is sending him three spirits, the Spirit of Christmas Past (Rebecca Jones), the Spirit of Christmas Present (John-Andrew Morrison) 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 regain if he is willing to change. The vendors like the inventor of watchworks (Mauricio Miranda) certainly hope Scrooge can mend his ways.

Along the way, our cranky businessman visits a former employer Mr. Fezziwig (Stuart Rider) and his wife (Sarah Killough), his fiancee Belle (Vanessa R. Butler), his nephew Fred (Erik Bloomquist) and the home of his clerk Bob who has a crippled son Tiny Tim (Calin “Cali” Butterfield or Aria Pierce). 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 disasterous 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. Michael Wilson has returned to direct this heartwarming production that has so much to offer.

For tickets ($30 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at HartfordStage.org. Performances are Tuesday to Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

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 who help him see the errors of his ways.