The latest, and final, entry into the Christmas-themed shows on area stages opened last weekend. Huntington Playhouse is presenting an adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” called “A Producer’s Christmas Carol.” Other theater options for the season are a return to “Annie” at the Beck Center. While not a Christmas show, it does use a President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiative for a song called “We’re Getting a New Deal for Christmas.” And the Cleveland Play House is presenting, after an absence of many years, the stage version of “A Christmas Story,” the movie filmed partly in Cleveland. The crowning gem of the season is the Great Lakes Theater production of “A Christmas Carol.”
The Huntington production of the classic story opens with a producer, hopeful that he can successfully cast a traditional “Christmas Carol” with a dozen people playing multiple parts each. Alas, it is not meant to be, and the inventive producer decides to produce the show himself, since he is the most familiar with the story.
“A Producer’s Christmas Carol” is a collaboration between writer-actor Tom Meyrose and writer-director Chuck Tisdale. I was able to see a dress rehearsal of the show through the courtesy of the creators.
If your goal is to hear and see an energetic retelling of Charles Dickens’ story, you will not be disappointed. Most of the significant narrative elements are here. Yes, there’s Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, but to me, there are more interesting threads. Scrooge’s romance with Belle, his job at Fezziwig’s and the creepy plundering of his belongings after his death in the “Christmas Future” sequence are all here.
Frustrated that he can’t find a cast, the producer takes on all of the roles himself. Sometimes pieces of costume are used, and there are some props, but the story takes place largely in the imagination of the audience. Meyrose mimics the men seeking a Christmas donation, the four ghosts – Marley might be the most effective – and everyone else.
“A Producer’s Christmas Carol” is a bit rough and unfinished. It is a work in progress. When you see it this year, you will be able to say you saw the genesis of a new production.
You can also be the first to support our local theater by purchasing a Huntington Flex Pass, which gives you admission to all six of next season’s shows, or the ability to bring five friends to one show. That’s the “flex” part. The season opens with “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” in which three performers enact all of Shakespeare’s plays. Later Huntington presents the musical version of the stage thriller “Catch Me If You Can” and the Agatha Christie mystery “Murder at the Vicarage.”
“A Producer’s Christmas Carol” runs weekends through Dec. 22.