Let’s Review: Cygnet Theatre’s Christmas Carol will delight all ages
By Diana Saenger
Whether a fan of Christmas Past or Christmas Present, theater patrons will find Cygnet’s “A Christmas Carol” the season’s pièce de résistance. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic holiday ghost story, the message-filled tale has been a seasonal favorite in film, books and on stage ever since it was written in 1843.
Everyone knows the story of the hard-working Bob Cratchit, whose boss, Ebenezer Scrooge, doesn’t believe in Christmas or paying Cratchit enough to take care of his family, which includes the afflicted Tiny Tim. For several years, Cygnet Theatre has produced the play as a live radio show, mimicking those from the 1940s.
This year, the Cygnet cast is performing a new adaptation of the story that it promises, “to be light and bright while embracing a fun and festive Christmas spirit.” This time, it’s WCYG Playhouse on the Air. Several microphones are in place for the actors to stand behind as they take on their specific characters. Photos of stars line the walls, and large APPLAUSE signs on both sides of the stage light up when the audience is encouraged to applaud a performance.
In the corner at stage right is Brian Mackey as Sam Hinds, the genius who must add all the special-effect sounds to the songs and dialogue. He not only slams doors, rings bells, stomps on the floor and drags items around, he also physically mimics an action – unseen by the performer — which adds depth to the hilarity. He’s a delight to watch the entire production.
All of the actors are terrific. David McBean takes on several characters in the play and is effervescent in all of them. Patrick McBride is excellent as Bob Cratchit and Old Joe
Tom Stephenson is absurdly irreverent as the mean Scrooge, but also gentle as a dandelion, turning a new cheek after his three visions of the future. Maggie Carney reminds one of comedienne Carol Burnett through her amusing repertoire and actions as Frannie Baxtor, among other characters. Melissa Fernandes is precise in her characters, which include Martha Cratchit.
Cygnet’s resident artist Melinda Gibb lends her delightful voice to the merriment and fills in for seven characters. Jonathan Dunn-Rankin could have stepped out from a 1940s broadcast as the announcer, narrator, guest and businessman.
Billy Thompson composed the show’s music, and at several junctures, the audience is invited to join in on some of the Christmas songs. The Cygnet staff and crew have left no stone unturned in this delightful production that reminds us to be of goodwill and entertains the young and still-young-at-heart.
If you go
What: “A Christmas Carol”
When: Matinees, evenings to Dec. 24
Where: Cygnet Theatre Company, Old Town Stage, 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego
Box Office: (619) 337-1525
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